Taking an extra-early look at five players who could be in the running for the 2016-17 Kia Sixth Man of the Year Award
POSTED: Sep 1, 2016 10:20 AM ET
Reigning Kia Sixth Man of the Year Award winner Jamal Crawford should be a favorite for it again in 2016-17.
These are the dog days of August, when it's easy to get hot and bothered by the heat and start howling and complaining about every little thing.
Our annual Summer Dreaming series brings us to the Sixth Man Award, which recognizes those players who know they're good enough to be in the starting lineup, but understand that there are sacrifices to be made in the name of team.
Our top five picks for Kia Sixth Man of the Year (and you can send us your picks here):
• Summer Dreaming: Kia MVP
• Summer Dreaming: Executive of the Year
• Summer Dreaming: Coach of the Year
• Summer Dreaming: Kia Most Improved Player of the Year
• Summer Dreaming: Kia Rookie of the Year
• Summer Dreaming: Kia Defensive Player of the Year
• Summer Dreaming: Comeback Player of the Year
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors: On a team where sharing and selflessness reign supreme, nobody gives up more of himself than the 12-year veteran. Sure, he could join newcomer Kevin Durant in the starting lineup to give the Warriors the most potent starting five in the NBA. Such a move could happen if they get back to The Finals for a third year in a row and coach Steve Kerr eventually needs to make a tweak. But with so many pieces of the "Strength In Numbers" bunch given up in order to fit Durant into the picture, now more than the ever Golden States needs the versatile swingman to come off the bench to provide punch. The MVP of the 2015 Finals can change gears and take the Warriors to a different level at both ends of the court.
And-1 of the Night: Andre Iguodala
Shaun Livingston finds Andre Iguodala underneath for the tough layup and foul.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers: You can make the argument that after winning the award for the third time in 2016 the NBA should simply make the trophy his likeness and name it after him. He's 36 years old going on 16 (in terms of sheer joy to play the game) and his dogged pursuit of fitness shows no sign of falling off with his performance. Just ask the Utah Jazz, who were essentially bounced from a playoff berth last April Crawford got a rare start due to injury and dropped 30 points in a relentless 49 minutes of an overtime road win. As usual, the Clippers left him dangling while they took care of other business in the early portion of free agency and he did look elsewhere. But in the end both sides came to the sensible conclusion that they're just too good for each other and he'll be firing up those jumpers at Staples Center and be back in the award race for a fourth time.
NBA Awards Show: Jamal Crawford
Shooting guard Jamal Crawford has been voted as the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets: The second-round draft pick from 2012 got the minutes he needed to have a breakout season a year ago. He averaged 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 28.7 minutes per game and it was enough to earn him 15 first-place votes and a fourth place finish in the 2015-16 Kia Sixth Man of the Year race. The young Nuggets might still be another year away from squeezing into playoff contention in the loaded Western Conference. But with his size (6-foot-6) and ability to affect things at both ends of the court, Barton will help that process along. Denver picked up three quite promising pieces in the Draft in Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley as the youth movement continues. Barton as a dependable contributor off the bench can be a steadying influence.
Nightly Notable: Will Barton
Will Barton gets a career high 32 points and adds 10 rebounds and 6 assists as the Nuggets take on the Pelicans.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: Let's start by saying he's got to find a way to stay on the court for a full season. Gordon has been oh-so-injury-prone, missing no fewer than 18 games in every season dating back to his rookie year (2008-09). Let's also say that he's got to find a way to do the delicate dance steps with his new teammate James Harden. Others such as Dwight Howard and Ty Lawson have found that not such an easy task. And it's also possible that Gordon finds his way into the starting lineup. But the biggest factor is new coach Mike D'Antoni putting the turbocharger on the Rockets offense and Gordon suddenly finding himself with more wide open looks at the bucket than he ever saw with the Los Angeles Clippers or New Orleans Pelicans. He's a career 38.3 percent shooter from behind the 3-point line and the free-shooting Rockets will turn him loose. If award voters just look at the offensive and Gordon can stay healthy, he'll score enough to be in the race.
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder: It's hard not to be noticed when you're 6-foot-11. Then Kanter called more attention to himself by trolling ex-teammate Kevin Durant and all of those disappointed Lakers fans when news hit that Russell Westbrook was staying in OKC. That's not to say the Turkish big man doesn't merit the attention for his play. Finally given regular playing time after the trade that got him out of Utah's limbo 1 1/2 seasons ago, Kanter became a force off the bench last season, able to score at the basket or away from it. His 24.0 ranked 10th in the league in PER last season -- sandwiched between All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins -- and when Kanter was on the floor with Steven Adams to form a Twin Towers lineup in the Western Conference finals, they often gave the Warriors fits in the paint. He's found his place with the Thunder and now they'll need more of his offense in the absence of Durant.
Kanter Dominates Blazers
Enes Kanter scores 33 points on 13-18 shooting, with 11 offensive boards totaling 20 versus Portland.
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