Sixth Man Award
Leads the team in three-pointers made (133) ... Ranks fourth on the team in scoring (12.2), fifth in rebounds (5.2) and fifth in assists (2.0) ... Scored in double-figures 54 times this season ... Scored 20-plus points nine times ... Recorded four double-doubles ... Recorded five or more assists seven times ... Scored 32 points, grabbed eight boards and dished out five assists in a win over Toronto 4/11 ... Scored 25 points and grabbed 16 boards in the first game of the season, 4/2 at Memphis ... Is the only Heat player to have played in all 81 games so far.
When he and Celtics coach Red Auerbach invented the concept of sixth man in the late '50s, Frank Ramsey set in stone the role sixth men still fill today: instant offense through many shots.
Which brings us to Miami's Antoine Walker as a sixth man. Why didn't anyone think of this before?
A career 19.0 points-per-game scorer, unapologetic gunner and a starter in every NBA game in which he ever played until this season, Walker fills the sixth man role perfectly for the Heat. With two go-to guys in the starting lineup (Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal), Walker keeps the pressure on when he enters the game with his 12.2 points and 5.2 boards per game. He also proves to be a nice outside complement to Shaq in the paint and the slashing Wade.
While some would argue that Walker's more instant shooting than instant offense, you can't score if you don't shoot. It's nice to see Walker keeping the tradition alive.
-- Rob Peterson
From the coach:
||If he's put in that role every single night, he'd average 20 points per game. You sort of forget a little bit how good he can be when he gets a number of good opportunities ... I don't think there's any doubt what kind of skill level he has.
-- Pat Riley, after Walker scored 32 points against Toronto on 4/11.
A fan's take:
'Toine, a lifetime starter, has accepted his role and has delivered well. He has made numerous big shots and has had a good amount of double-digit scoring fourth quarters. His 32 point, eight rebound, five assist game should seal the deal on the award, considering all the players who were out.
-- Sam - West Hartford, Conn.
Sixth Man Award - The Candidates:
Speedy Claxton - New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Derek Fisher - Golden State Warriors
Mike Miller - Memphis Grizzlies
Jerry Stackhouse - Dallas Mavericks
Antoine Walker - Miami Heat
Others worth consideration: Earl Boykins, Channing Frye, Devin Harris, Eddie House, Bobby Jackson, Fred Jones, Alonzo Mourning, Ronald Murray, Charlie Villanueva, Maurice Williams
Doug Benc/Getty Images/NBAE