This award is undervalued in many ways, and certainly doesn’t get near enough air-time or consideration from the media. The players mentioned in this article are the backbone of their franchises, not usually in the spotlight, happy to play their role, and are able to thrive off limited minutes.
Legend: MPG = minutes per game, PPG = points per game, RPG = rebounds per game, APG = assists per game, SPG = steals per game, BPG = blocks per game, FG = field goal, 3P = three points, FT = free throws, PER = player efficiency rating, WS = win share
#5 – Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-19 Games Started: 14 2018-19 Games Played: 79
Award History: None
2018-19 Averages: 29.3 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 41.4% FG, 34.1% 3P, 81.9% FT, 12.7 PER, 2.9 WS
Dennis Schroder finished 8th in Most Improved Player voting last season, but with both Westbrook and PG gone, and with Chris Paul’s role and future with the Thunder hanging in the balance, it’s tough to say whether Schroder will assume a starting role or not. Regardless, Schroder will play a lot of minutes, definitely more than he did last season, but it’s the simple fact of whether Chris Paul starts on the floor or not. The Thunder are now one of the worst teams in the league, so expect Schroder to have quite a productive season.
#4 – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings
2018-19 Games Started: 17 2018-19 Games Played: 70
Award History: All Rookie 2nd Team (2018), NBA Rising Stars Challenge MVP (2018)
2018-19 Averages: 27.8 mpg, 14.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 41.8% FG, 36.0% 3P, 82.7% FT, 14.1 PER, 2.7 WS
After a ridiculously good FIBA World Cup outing it would have been a sin to not have Bogdan somewhere in these Power Rankings. Last season he cemented himself as an important bench player for Sacramento, and with clear improvement in his game he is set to garner an even larger role behind Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes. If it weren’t for the Kings paying Barnes $24m+ per season, Bogdan would most likely be the starting Small Forward. With an improvement from the other young guns surrounding him like Fox and Bagley III, his impact could be further enhanced.
#3 – Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz
2018-19 Games Started: 81 2018-19 Games Played: 81
Award History: All Rookie 2nd Team (2015)
2018-19 Averages: 31.8 mpg, 18.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.0 bpg, 49.7% FG, 42.5% 3P, 80.7% FT, 16.1 PER, 6.8 WS
It’s a Bogdanovic party up in here! Bojan is not much of a household NBA name, but he quietly goes about his business and has really enhanced his game. Basically improving in every statistic besides free throw percentage and blocks per game, Bogdanovic led the Pacers in scoring last season, and became an important part of their post-Oladipo half of the season, well-surpassing most people’s expectations. With a new 4yr/$73m contract at the Jazz, Bogdanovic has the opportunity to make a huge impact coming off the bench behind Jingles.
#2 – Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
2018-19 Games Started: 4 2018-19 Games Played: 68
Award History: None
2018-19 Averages: 28.1 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 4.6 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 44.2% FG, 33.5% 3P, 80.6% FT, 16.3 PER, 4.8 WS
In 2018, Dinwiddie cemented himself as a player on the rise as a finalist for the Most Improved Player award. This improvement continued into last season when he assumed the role of backup Point Guard to D’Angelo Russell, featuring in the Most Improved voting yet again, and finishing 4th in Sixth Man voting. Heading into his 6th season, and now with Kyrie Irving at the helm, expect Dinwiddie’s role to remain exactly the same. With some new mentoring off Kyrie, Dinwiddie will continue his improvement from his past 2 seasons.
#1 – Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
2018-19 Games Started: 1 2018-19 Games Played: 75
Award History: 3 x Sixth Man of the Year (2015, 2018-19)
2018-19 Averages: 26.6 mpg, 20.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 42.5% FG, 36.1% 3P, 87.6% FT, 21.2 PER, 5.1 WS
You must be doing something right when people consider you an All-Star snub as a sixth man. That’s exactly what happened in 2018, and Lou backed it up again last season being incredibly influential with a 21.2 PER, which ranks him as the 29th most efficient player in the league. Considering there are 150 players who are starters, this is quite the impressive feat coming off the bench. Heading into his 15th season, Lou isn’t showing any signs of ageing or slowing down, especially with his breakout season coming at 31 years of age. But could playing with PG and Kawhi mean fewer minutes? Or will this just give Lou more opportunity to destroy teams off the bench?
The Next 5:
#6 Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
#7 Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets
#8 Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers
#9 Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons
#10 Terence Ross, Orlando Magic
R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks
In an underwhelming New York Knicks squad, their future franchise cornerstone, R.J. Barrett, will provide quality minutes off the bench behind Kevin Knox. If he can quickly adjust to the NBA style, his impact is going to be felt across the league. His potential is essentially limitless, and there is a chance that he could accomplish what only Ben Gordon has been able to do back in 2005, win Sixth Man of the Year as a rookie.