NBA Stats Smackdown 2011: Sixth Man Award

Last post I made my vote for the Wins Produced Sixth Man Award for this upcoming season.  Going along with that I need to make a media pick.  It took me a little longer to get the media post together because I needed a little more info.  Unlike WP, which I can find easily and is about all I need, the media tends to look mostly at scoring, but they also seem to give credit to players on playoff teams.  Last year the winner was Jamal Crawford, who scored 18 points per game for the 4th seed Bucks; the year before, Jason Terry from the 6th seed Mavericks won while scoring 19.6 points per game.  So when I pick a winner, I need to look for someone who will a) score a good number of points per game, b) thus, play a good number of minutes, and c) play on a probable playoff team.

I haven’t made my own team record predictions yet, so I used Arturo’s team predictions to make the playoff prediction.  I added in Phoenix and Sacramento because they’re only two games out in the West; I did not add Charlotte in the East despite being virtually tied with Cleveland because I don’t think a guy from a team with under 40 wins will get the trophy.

Much as in the previous prediction, I used my list of potential sixth men, got their points per game from the past three years, and did a simple average.  Then I sorted by playoff team and average ppg.  The top three: Antawn Jamison, Jamal Crawford, and Jason Terry.  Interestingly, all of these guys have won the award before (2003-04, last year, and the year before).  No one has won multiple sixth man awards besides Detlef Schrempf and Kevin McHale, so it’s tempting to discount all three of these guys.  The next three options are Marcus Thornton, Shaq (!), and J.R. Smith.  I can’t really see the media giving the award to Shaq.  J.R. Smith is tempting because he’s gotten votes before (5th last year and 2nd the year before).  Thornton would be interesting, especially if the Hornets make a jump from last year; he should get better, since he’s young, and he might get credit for some of the improvement.

From the WP list, Mike Miller, DeJuan Blair, and Josh Childress are options.  They all play for probable playoff teams (maybe not for Childress/Phoenix).  Miller and Childress (at least two years ago) put up about 12 points per game; Blair only put up 8, but he should get more minutes this year, get better, and people are impressed by his rebounding.  I’m still wary about Childress since he was out of the league for a couple years.  Mike Miller is a definite option, but he won in 2005.  Just like last post, I’m tempted by Blair.  If the Spurs do as well as Arturo thinks they will, people will want to point to someone besides the ‘rapidly aging’ guys from the past bazillion years.

Conclusion: I’m tempted by Thornton, Miller, and Blair.  In the end I’m going to go with maybe a bit of a stretch and pick DeJuan Blair.  I think he gets more minutes, puts up a double-double, and the Spurs do well enough to get him attention.  Plus, the media might make it an opportunity to show that they’re willing to throw a ‘low scoring’ guy a bone and appease the rising stats movement.

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