After another entertaining week of basketball, here are some role players that are making an impact.
Jordan Clarkson ran away with the 2021 Sixth Man of the Year award after putting up 18 points per game as the backup for Donovan Mitchell. As the favorite to defend his title this season, the 29-year-old shooting guard has seen a dip in production, leaving many to wonder who will capitalize on this opportunity. With that being said, here are three bench players who are trying to enter the Sixth Man of the Year conversation for the 2021-22 season.
- Gary Payton II
After being re-signed by the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 19, four days removed from being released, the son of Hall-of-Fame point-guard Gary Payton has made a name for himself. Just in the beginning of the season his defensive skill and ability to consistently dunk has aided in his team value. While averaging only 12 minutes per game, the 28-year-old is putting up six points and two rebounds per game.
Though the impact Payton II brings to the Warriors 10-1 record goes beyond his stat line. According to StatMuse, the “Warriors have outscored opponents by 95 points in Gary Payton II’s 129 minutes this season.” By utilizing his limited minutes off the bench, he has made waves around the league by becoming a new weapon in the Warrior’s arsenal.
- Alex Caruso
Earlier this season he explained his mindset to NBA writer Sam Smith on what led him to choose the Chicago Bulls. “I think the things I’m good at the team needs and the team can use. I think that’s part of the reason they brought me here. Just trying to do my best to rub off on the other guys,” he said.’ The Bulls were able to sign the 27-year-old point guard away from the Los Angeles Lakers with a four year, $36 million contract in a move that would add serious depth to their bench.
So far this season, Caruso has shown a return on their investment, generating eight points along with two steals per game. Thanks to his immediate impact, he bolsters a rotation already consisting of Demar Derozan, Lonzo Ball and Zach Lavine. With a strong 8-3 start to the year, and Caruso leading the second-team, the Bulls are looking to be a strong contender in the Eastern Conference.
- Tyler Herro
Back in 2020, at 20-years-old ,the shooting-guard caught the league’s attention after playing a key role in the Miami Heat’s playoff run. Herro continued to improve the following season averaging an impressive 15 points per game that earned him the role of the sixth-man in the rotation.
Now in his third season, Herro has sights set on expanding his role not only on the Heat but also cementing his name as a fixture in the NBA. Herro explained to the Miami Herald his goals before the season saying, “Obviously, Sixth Man of the Year, for sure. Most Improved. I feel like I can compete for those two, for sure.” With that being said, he has made a strong case for himself to take home both those awards in the 2021-22 campaign scoring 20 points per game and shooting 40% from beyond the arc.