Andre Drummond should be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, but Damian Lillard is running away with all the support. Rather than griping, I found a new award Drummond should contend for: Sixth Man of the Year. That race is wide open, and it’s not too late for Drummond to generate some support. Me at the Detroit Free Press:
To be eligible for sixth man of the year, a player must come off the bench in more games than he starts. So far, so good for Drummond, who frustratingly can’t beat out Jason Maxiell for a starting spot. In fact, by coming off the bench in his first 42 games, Drummond already has clinched eligibility.
Here are the leaders of players currently eligible, ordered by win shares:
1. Kevin Martin, 4.3
2. Ryan Anderson, 4.2
3. Matt Barnes, 4.1
4. Andre Drummond, 3.7
4. Manu Ginobili, 3.7
4. Carl Landry, 3.7
Landry has generated little support for the honor. Voters often are wary of awarding the same player multiple times, and Ginobili already has won sixth man of the year and is a perennial contender. Barnes likely will split votes with his Los Angeles Clippers teammates, including Michigan Man Jamal Crawford, who’s probably the favorite for this award. Anderson started when Anthony Davis was out injured, and until Davis gains the strength of an NBA big man, another injury seems quite possible. Martin makes a strong case, but he’s far from a lock.
Unlike rookie of the year, this award is wide open. Drummond has gotten no buzz, but he should.
Drummond has made Will Bynum, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva look like quality NBA players. Let’s not underscore the significance of that. Drummond scores efficiently, protects the rim and rebounds on both ends.
When it comes to the spirit of the award, Drummond is one of the few candidates who ranks sixth or lower on his team in minutes per game. Among such players, only the Spurs’ Tiago Splitter, a starter, has more win shares.
Drummond probably doesn’t deserve the award at this point, but he’s only improving. With a strong second half, he could play himself into the discussion. So often, these awards are based on buzz, and because there’s no runaway choice for this honor, there’s time for Drummond to catch up.