2022-23 NBA Awards

Stats Breakdown: The best off the bench

Breaking down the numbers of the three finalists for the Kia Sixth Man of the Year with interactive visualizations.

Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon (14.9 ppg) and New York’s Immanuel Quickley (12.3 ppg) rank fourth and eighth, respectively, in scoring average off the bench this season.

With the Kia Sixth Man of the Year award set to be announced on Thursday, we break down the stats for each of the three finalists – Boston’s Malcolm Brogdon, New York’s Immanuel Quickley and Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis – and compare how they stack up against one another.

The first slide above looks at full season stats for all three players – regardless of whether they began the game on the bench or as part of the starting five. When looking at scoring, we see Brogdon and Quickley tied at 14.9 ppg with Portis slightly behind at 14.1 ppg.

The next two slides break each player’s stats down using only games when they came off the bench and only games when they were a starter. This is a key distinction to make because Brogdon is the only one of the three finalists that came off the bench in every game he appeared in this season, so his 14.9 ppg scoring average remains the same, while Quickley and Portis – who both started over 20 games this season – see their scoring average drop when they are in a reserve role.

Here is another look, but using total points scored. When we add up Quickley’s points as a bench player and a starter, he leads the three finalists with 1,209 total points scored. Brogdon still leads in bench scoring at an even 1,000 points, scoring more points as a reserve only than Portis scored in all games combined.

Quickley finished the season with nine 25+ point games, all coming as a member of the starting lineup when he played big minutes. His highest scoring game off the bench came on March 29 when he finished with 24 points in 32 minutes against the Miami Heat.

Portis’ two highest scoring games of the season — 28 vs. Brooklyn on March 9 and 27 vs. Chicago on April 5 — both came as part of Milwaukee’s starting five. His top scoring game as a reserve came on Dec. 13 vs. Golden State when he finished with 25 points in 32 minutes off the bench.

With Brogdon coming off the bench in all 67 of his games, all six of his 25+ point games came in a reserve role.

Here’s a breakdown of each player’s bench points based on where the points were scored – in the restricted area, in the paint (outside the restricted area), from the mid-range, the two corners and above the break 3-pointers. Brogdon finished with a significant edge in 3-point scoring with 396 of his 1,000 points coming on 3-pointers, compared to 303 for Quickley and 174 for Portis. Brogdon also led all three finalists at the free throw line with 160 made free throws on 87% shooting.

Meanwhile, Portis scored nearly half of his points from inside the paint (inside and outside the restricted area combined) and led the three finalists with 94 points on mid-range shots. While Brogdon led the field in total 3-pointers made, Quickley scored more from the corners with 75 points on just 29.4% shooting.

Finally, we compare the three finalists in five major categories – points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage – over the course of the season with a month-by-month look at their bench production. Because we only use stats from games played off the bench, Quickley has no stats for April as he was a starter for the Knicks in all four games he appeared in to close out the regular season.

Brogdon posted the outright lead in scoring in four months and tied for two other months as December was the only month he did not lead the three finalists in bench scoring. When it comes to rebounding, it was no contest as Portis dominated the field, recording 23 of his 38 double-doubles on the season while coming off the bench. Similar to scoring, Brogdon led the way in assists in every month but one.

Brogdon and Portis exchanged the lead in field goal percentage for much of the season with Quickley finishing second just once (January). Brogdon led the way in 3-point percentage for nearly the entire season, with Quickley edging him out in December.

When we examine the numbers and focus solely on bench production, Brogdon stands out above the other two finalists in terms of total production and efficiency. However, if we take into account the times that these sixth men were called upon to start – either for an injured teammate or due to a favorable matchup – then the race gets much tighter.