Read into Sky Sports' 2023 NBA Sixth Man of the Year predictions and picks, with big names like Jordan Poole, Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk and Bobby Portis in the mix ahead of the end-of-season awards.
Thursday 5 January 2023 12:09, UK
Everyone's been talking about the MVP predictions, the rookie picks, the upcoming draft, but don't sleep on this year's Sixth Man of the Year contenders. Sky Sports takes a look at the players who are attracting attention and what makes them good candidates to pick up the accolade come the end of the season.
Westbrook took some convincing from head coach Darvin Ham to assume the bench role in the opening weeks of the season, with the Los Angeles Lakers struggling to fit him in as a sharp-shooter around the explosive LeBron James.
The popular saying adopted by team-mates and members of the media, 'let Russ be Russ', was starting to get tetchy as the Lakers big man struggled to get into any real gear of form. But through the constant coaching from both James and Ham, he is now one of the best rotating figures in the league.
Indeed, Westbrook is putting up impressive stats, averaging 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists, despite his team's struggling record within the Western Conference.
His steady contribution to points, and positional awareness will be key in the upcoming schedule as the Lakers operate without the injured Anthony Davis.
Poole joins Westbrook in the conversation, currently leading the Golden State Warriors attack as a result of Stephen Curry's shoulder injury.
The Dubs talisman has now been out for 10 games, which has put Poole in the limelight, alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Averaging 28.6 points in his last five games, Poole could fast be cementing his position as a third Splash Brother with consistently impressive performances. From dropping 41 over the Portland Trail Blazers to never falling below 20 points per game, continue in this form, and he might just be singlehandedly fuelling his team's playoffs hopes.
Mathurin could become the first rookie to win the Sixth Man of the Year award since Ben Gordon did it in 2004-05. It's a mean feat to follow, but he sure is right in the mix with the Indiana Pacers.
The 21-year-old is already turning heads by averaging 17.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, while getting to the free-throw line 5.5 times too. These numbers would be impressive enough for a starter, let alone someone who's only been playing professionally in the NBA for just over a year.
Alongside All-Star candidate Tyrese Haliburton, he's been one of the more exciting additions to the back court, and as such, warrants a mention.
The Sacramento Kings might not have been entirely sure what they were getting signing Malik Monk from the Los Angeles Lakers, but boy has he delivered.
From shots to defending, and most impressively his overall playmaking - Monk is sixth among NBA reserves with 3.9 assist a game - there's very few departments in which the 24-year-old does not excel in.
Monk is currently averaging a career-best 14.6 points per game, and has consistently been putting up the numbers, despite the fact that consistency is the very thing in which he was questioned about in LA.
Keep putting up these stats and he'll continue to be a first-pick in the Kings' line-ups as they attempt to make a first return to the playoff picture since 2006.
It's easy to gravitate around Giannis Antetokounmpo when it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks, but Bobby Portis is one reserve you won't want to skim over.
Indeed, Portis has been a double-double machine for his team this season, averaging 13.4 points and 10 rebounds a game so far. He's snapped up an impressive 12 double-doubles off the bench and could be on his way to achieving a record number this season. That much was evident in the Bucks' recent win over the Toronto Raptors.
Given that the Bucks haven't been without their injuries - Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis himself are a few names that spring to mind - Portis could be an even more key individual than previously known.
And, given that the winner of this award usually comes from a winning team, the odds about him winning the Sixth Man of the Year and the NBA title itself definitely inspires hope.
Of course there are some notable mentions to keep an eye on, that are more than capable of unseating those in the list above, should they find the right form.
Leading the charge is Boston Celtics' Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon has showcased his ruthless shooting within and outside the paint, unlike any other contender in our Sixth Man of the Year list. He's knocking down 46.2 per cent of his 4.1 threes, and he's averaging 3.7 assists per game in 23.8 minutes per contest.
Joining him is Los Angeles Clippers' benchwarmer, Norman Powell. Norman, just like Brogdon, has proven he can score on all three levels, and will be a crucial figure on the court to pick up around the potential injuries of Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard.
The man to bring up the rear is another Bogdan, well Bogdan Bogdanovic. The most interesting stat about the Atlanta Hawks reserve is that he has the highest differential of any returning Hawks player, per Cleaning the Glass. Sure, the 30-year-old is in the final guaranteed year of his four-year, $72m contract, but he remains an important cog in Nate McMillan's plans.