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Lamar Odom's efficiency rating off the bench makes him StatsCube's pick for Sixth Man of the Year.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

StatsCube: Look beyond scoring for Sixth Man candidates

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Mar 17 2011 2:42PM

In this NBA.com StatsCube study, StatsCube takes a look at candidates for the Kia Sixth Man Award.

It's getting to be that time. There's been MVP talk (and an MVP column) all season long. But there are five other major awards to be handed out at the end of the season. So, over the next few weeks, NBA.com StatsCube will take a close look at the candidates for each.

Recent history tells us that scoring is the key to the Sixth Man Award. Of the last nine Kia Sixth Man Award winners, seven of them went to the leading scorer among eligible players.

To be eligible for the Sixth Man Award, a player has to come off the bench more than he starts.

Sixth Man Award, past 10 winners
Season Winner Pts/G Rank Eff/G Rank
2009-10 Jamal Crawford 18.0 1 14.5 9
2008-09 Jason Terry 19.6 1 16.5 4
2007-08 Manu Ginobili 19.5 1 20.0 1
2006-07 Leandro Barbosa 18.1 1 16.5 3
2005-06 Mike Miller 13.7 2 14.9 1
2004-05 Ben Gordon 15.1 3 10.1 27
2003-04 Antawn Jamison 14.8 1 16.3 1
2002-03 Bobby Jackson 15.2 1 14.4 3
2001-02 Corliss Williamson 13.6 1 12.3 7
2000-01 Aaron McKie 11.6 9 13.9 3
Eff = Pts. + Reb.+ Ast. + Stl. + Blk. TO (FGA-FGM) (FTA-FTM)
Rank is among eligible players with a minimum of 50 games played

Jamal Crawford, with his 18.0 points per game was a landslide winner a year ago, receiving 110 of a possible 122 first-place votes, despite the better overall numbers of several other bench players, including a few on other teams with 50-plus wins.

Manu Ginobili, Paul Millsap, Lamar Odom and Anderson Varejao each had better efficiency numbers for playoff teams than Crawford did last season. In addition, each contributed to better defenses than the one that Crawford was a part of in Atlanta. But the voters clearly paid most attention to the scoring column.

This season, among players eligible for the Sixth Man Award, Jason Terry is the leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. And he's been the third- or fourth-most important player on a team that's currently tied for second place in the Western Conference. So if voting goes the way it has in the past, Terry will likely win his second Sixth Man Award in three years.

But when it comes to overall numbers, there are better candidates than Terry.

Top 10 in efficiency among players eligible for Sixth Man Award
Player GP Min/G Pts/G Eff/G
Lamar Odom 68 32.1 14.4 19.7
Serge Ibaka 67 26.4 9.3 15.1
Shawn Marion 67 27.9 12.1 14.5
Marcin Gortat 64 23.3 8.7 13.9
Ramon Sessions 65 26.5 12.6 13.8
Jason Terry 68 31.9 16.3 13.8
Thaddeus Young 68 25.8 12.2 13.5
Ty Lawson 66 25.2 11.0 12.5
Ed Davis 50 23.1 6.9 12.5
J.R. Smith 65 24.6 11.9 12.1
-Minimum 50 games played
-Note: Now in the starting lineup and approaching the cut-off, both Ibaka and Sessions will
likely become ineligible for the award by the end of the season.

Playing for bad teams, neither Sessions nor Davis can really be considered a candidate. Individual statistics don't matter much if you're not helping your team win games.

The most important number in basketball is the number on the scoreboard. And when it comes to making an impact on the final score, some Sixth Man Award candidates distinguish themselves more than others.

Top 10 in team efficiency differential among players eligible for Sixth Man Award
Player GP Min/G Pts/G Eff/G Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
Omer Asik 66 11.9 2.5 5.4 103.9 90.7 +13.3
Matt Bonner 51 21.5 7.4 9.1 111.9 102.0 +9.9
Nick Collison 58 21.3 4.6 8.4 109.2 99.7 +9.5
Ryan Anderson 51 22.0 10.5 12.0 108.2 98.7 +9.4
Ronnie Brewer 66 22.7 6.3 8.9 102.3 93.0 +9.2
James Jones 67 18.1 5.7 5.9 107.5 98.6 +8.9
Joel Anthony 62 19.7 1.9 5.8 107.7 99.0 +8.7
George Hill 61 28.1 11.2 11.4 109.8 101.2 +8.6
Lamar Odom 68 32.1 14.4 19.7 110.1 101.9 +8.2
C.J. Watson 66 13.1 4.8 4.6 100.2 92.2 +8.0
-Minimum 50 games played
-Off. Eff. = Teams points scored per 100 possessions
-Def. Eff. = Teams points allowed per 100 possessions

Asik obviously doesn't play enough minutes to make a huge impact on the game, but he's still an integral part of the league's No. 1 defense. In fact, while benches from other teams may boast higher scoring totals, the Bulls' bench is the best in the NBA, because it consistently shuts down its opponent's second unit.

The Bulls' lineup of Watson, Brewer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Asik has been the best defensive five-man unit in the league (minimum of 100 minutes), allowing a ridiculously low 75.9 points per 100 possessions in 103 minutes together. Substitute Derrick Rose for Watson and you have the league's second-best defensive unit (83.5 points allowed per 100 possessions in 118 minutes).

A true "sixth man" is the first guy off the bench. And one of the most important traits of a good bench player is his ability to make an impact as soon as he steps on the floor. It's not easy to sit on the bench for several minutes, come into the game cold, and quickly get into a rhythm.

If you look at which players are most productive in their first five minutes of action, you get some interesting results ...

Top 10 in efficiency, first five minutes in game
Player Pts/48 Eff/48 Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
Ed Davis 15.0 30.8 98.2 108.8 -10.6
Marcin Gortat 19.7 29.9 110.3 101.5 8.8
Marreese Speights 23.9 29.7 107.5 95.5 12.0
James Harden 30.7 29.1 109.2 100.3 8.9
Lamar Odom 19.7 28.1 103.7 96.7 7.0
Serge Ibaka 17.0 27.3 106.6 106.4 0.1
Ronny Turiaf 13.3 27.3 99.5 102.0 -2.6
Samuel Dalembert 16.2 26.9 104.2 106.5 -2.3
Vladimir Radmanovic 18.8 26.9 106.3 103.2 3.2
Ryan Anderson 22.0 26.2 101.0 100.7 0.3
Among players eligible for the Sixth Man Award with a minimum of 50 total games played.
-Numbers are only from games in which they came off the bench
Top 10 in team efficiency differential, first five minutes in game
Player Pts/48 Eff/48 Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
Taj Gibson 17.2 24.8 102.5 86.9 15.6
Eric Maynor 14.8 19.3 112.9 97.7 15.2
Nick Collison 9.5 21.2 110.5 97.7 12.8
Marreese Speights 23.9 29.7 107.5 95.5 12.0
James Jones 16.4 15.4 108.8 97.0 11.8
Bill Walker 20.2 19.8 103.5 92.3 11.2
Keyon Dooling 18.2 17.5 103.5 92.3 11.2
Mario Chalmers 10.9 16.8 106.0 95.6 10.4
Omer Asik 10.9 22.9 98.8 89.0 9.7
Matt Bonner 18.8 23.9 112.7 103.1 9.5
-Among players eligible for the Sixth Man Award with a minimum of 50 total games played.
-Numbers are only from games in which they came off the bench

Notice that Terry isn't on either of the two lists above. He ranks sixth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring, but hasn't made much of an impact in his first five minutes on the floor. In fact, the Mavs have been outscored by 3.7 points per 100 possessions in Terry's first five minutes over the course of the season.

Odom, on the other hand, consistently affects the scoreboard in a positive manner for the Lakers. And while Terry has the edge when it comes to putting the ball in the basket, Odom, with superior overall numbers and a bigger defensive impact, should be the clear choice for the Sixth Man Award this season.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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