Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 6 mins

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Betting Tips & Advice to Consider

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Betting Tips & Advice to Consider

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There was a time not too long ago that the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year was simply an award to the best "bench" player, a performer not good enough to start but essentially the "best of the rest." But the talent pool of the NBA has meant that Sixth Men often close games, are near the team lead in minutes per game and are focal points of the offense.

The Clippers' Montrezl Harrell won the award last season, and he ranked fifth in minutes, third in points and rebounds for LA, and was always in the Clips' closing lineup. They're not exactly All-Star performers, but Sixth Man of the Year winners are much more than backups.

2021 Sixth Man Award Odds

Player Odds
Danilo Gallinari, Hawks +800
Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets +1000
Goran Dragic, Heat +1000
Serge Ibaka, Clippers +1000
Jordan Clarkson, Jazz +1200
Tyler Herro, Heat +1600
Norman Powell, Raptors +1600
Dennis Schroder, Lakers +1600

All NBA 6th Man Award odds via DraftKings are current as of publication but subject to change; get the latest NBA futures odds here

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Our Pick To Win the 2021 NBA 6th Man Award

Danilo Gallinari has started 541 of 611 career games, but the Atlanta Hawks' free-agent prize will shift to the bench in his 12th NBA season. That shouldn't hurt his productivity, and it definitely shouldn't hurt his scoring in Atlanta's fast-paced offense. Gallinari should be among the league's leading bench scorers - always a good indicator for Sixth Man Award consideration - on a Hawks team that could surprise.

Lou Williams has won Sixth Man of the Year an NBA record three times. Know who plays a lot like Williams? Miami's Tyler Herro. One of the more impressive young players during the NBA bubble in Orlando, Herro is locked into the Sixth Man role in Miami and should get plenty of run for a Heat team without much backcourt depth. It's a media vote, remember, and Herro has a ton of fans. With that in mind, the rising star is our pick to win Sixth Man of the Year.

A longshot to with the Sixth Man Award? Harrell bucked the trend and won as a big man in 2020, so how about another in Toronto's Chris Boucher. Serge Ibaka (Clippers) and Marc Gasol (Lakers) are gone, leaving a void behind Pascal Siakam and Aron Baynes.

Boucher is the best young prospect you haven't heard of. But consider: In 11 games that he played more than 20 minutes, Boucher averaged 17.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. He's the real deal who should get a ton of minutes. His +8000 odds on DraftKings make for outstanding value.

How to Bet NBA 6th Man Award

NBA Sixth Men Award winners come in all different shapes, sizes, ages, skill sets and experience. The qualification for the award is a player who starts less than half the games he appears in during the regular season.

Since Bobby Jones won the first award in 1983, fellow winners have included future Hall of Famers like Bill Walton and Kevin McHale and future MVPs like James Harden.

International players have been a mainstay, with winners including Toni Kukoc, Manu Ginobili, Leandro Barbosa and Detlef Schrempf. Winners have been as young as 21 years old (rookie Ben Gordon won in 2005) and as old as 35-year-old Jamal Crawford, playing in his 16th NBA season.

With so much variance in winners over the years, it can be a daunting task for fans of NBA betting to pick a winner.

But we're here to help. As varied as the winners have been we've found four recent trends that can help you in picking one of the most difficult annual bets of the year.

Veterans Make Best Bet

It takes talent to be named Sixth Man of the Year. But more often than not young talented players find themselves in the starting lineup. Whether it's because of the contract they've given, their draft status or simply because they're the best at their position, the best young players play often, meaning they rarely come off the bench.

Because of that, most Sixth Man of the Year winners are veteran players. From 2008 to 2019, James Harden (22 years old) was the only player younger than 27 years old to win the award. The 12 other winners ranged between 27 and 35 years old, and their average age was 30.5 years old and on average were playing in their 10th year in the league.

Harden was the outlier, but there wasn't any room for him to start on a team that included Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. His scoring was needed on the second unit. It was a rare circumstance. Think older when considering Sixth Man of the Year.


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Winning Matters a Whole Lot

Just as winning matters when picking the Most Valuable Player, it's even more important when considering the Sixth Man of the Year. Winners of this award have been on dominant, not just pretty good, teams. And there haven't even been any outliers.

From 1994 to 2017, the award was handed out 23 times. The players who won that award were on teams that won at least 47 games (or were on pace to do so in lockout-shortened seasons). On average these teams won a whopping 54.9 games, and only three failed to win 50 in the year. Fifty wins, of course, is more than just a playoff team. It's a top-3 seed most seasons.


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Shooting Guards Make for the Best Bets

While your best bet for Defensive Player of the Year is to find a big man, the opposite has been true for the Sixth Man of the Year in years past. It's an offensive-minded award, and in today's NBA that means guard play wins. Specifically, shooting guards.

From 2004 to 2019, 13 of the 15 winners for Sixth Man of the Year were shooting guards. The only exceptions were Lamar Odom, who was pretty much a point forward, and Mike Miller, who played exclusively on the wing (like a shooting guard) but was listed as a small forward.

The last power forward to win the award was Rodney Rogers, who averaged 13.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 2000 and the last center to win it was Bill Walton in 1986. Amazingly enough, and perhaps this trend will shift, the only point guard to win the award from 1999 to 2018 was Darrell Armstrong. What we're saying here is to find shooters.


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Like Other Awards, Scoring Means Winners

We've saved the most important trend for last. There are plenty of important bench players who run the second unit, and those who can defend at an elite level. Unfortunately, those players don't have a seat at the table when it comes to the Sixth Man of the Year voting.

What matters most when picking this award? Scoring, and scoring a lot. From 2002 to 2020, a span of 19 winners, 12 of those players led the NBA in bench scoring. Four others were second in bench scoring, two more ranked third and the final winner ranked fourth.

Pick a player you believe will come off the bench the majority of the season, is a veteran, knows how to shoot and will score in bunches. Do that and you've got an excellent shot at finding your Sixth Man of the Year winner.

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