Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose’s path to Sixth Man of the Year

Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Derrick Rose. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

New Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose will look to add to his trophy shelf as the former MVP could win Sixth Man of the Year honors this upcoming season.

What do Bill Walton and James Harden have in common? They’re the only two NBA players to win both the regular season MVP award and also win the Sixth Man of the Year award. Walton went from MVP to Sixth Man and Harden went from Sixth Man to MVP (that Thunder team had so much potential, didn’t it?).

What do Walton, Harden, and new Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose have in common? I’m sure you can see where this is going.

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All three of them have won an MVP. Assuming that Rose comes off the bench for a majority of the upcoming season, could he make a large enough splash to be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year, an award that Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford seem to have cornered the market on in years past?

NBA Winners Table
Per GameShootingAdvanced
2018-19NBALou Williams(V)32LAC7526.620.
2017-18NBALou Williams(V)31LAC7932.822.
2016-17NBAEric Gordon(V)28HOU7531.
2015-16NBAJamal Crawford(V)35LAC7926.914.
2014-15NBALou Williams(V)28TOR8025.
2013-14NBAJamal Crawford(V)33LAC6930.318.
2012-13NBAJ.R. Smith(V)27NYK8033.518.
2011-12NBAJames Harden(V)22OKC6231.416.
2010-11NBALamar Odom(V)31LAL8232.
2009-10NBAJamal Crawford(V)29ATL7931.

Provided by View Original Table

The above numbers show the last 10 Sixth Man of the Year Award winners. On average, Sixth Man winners will score 17.4 points per game, average 3.4 rebounds per game, and average 3.3 assists per game. They can impact the game in more ways than one, but typically, offensive output off the bench in addition to the team’s success is the large qualifier for this award.

Below lies the statistics for Rose’s 2018-19 campaign where he finished sixth on the Sixth Man voting on a team that missed the playoffs.

Per Game Table

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2019.

Similar to this Blake Griffin Path to MVP article, you’d be shocked to know that team success can, in turn, result in individual accomplishment.

If the Minnesota Timberwolves made the playoffs as a fifth-seed last season, Rose likely would’ve gotten more attention as a Sixth Man, same with Griffin if the Pistons did better.

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I think the path to Rose winning the Sixth Man of the Year award is within the realm of possibility while Griffin’s likelihood to win the MVP is very, very small. Rose, even after all the injuries, still has a strong offensive game. I wouldn’t expect him to go .48/.37 from the field again, but likely to have a similar output on a Detroit Pistons bench unit that was astoundingly terrible last season.

Ideally, the path to Rose winning the Sixth Man of the Year award would be to maintain that offensive efficiency and maybe even improve upon it. But the biggest factor in his campaign would be his health. And that’s something that people “knock” him for all the time, even though it’s out of his control.

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Like stated above, team success equals individual success. Rose being active on the roster makes the Pistons a better basketball team, that can’t be all that questioned. He’s a strong upgrade over Ish Smith and will provide valuable minutes off the bench. However, he only managed to play 51 games last season. Twenty-five games played the season before among weird injuries and circumstances.

From the chart above, excluding the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Sixth Man winners played less than 75 games once. Rose hasn’t played more than 75 games since his 2010-11 MVP season.

As cool as it would be to see a rejuvenated Rose have a successful Sixth Man of the Year award, his body might prevent that vision from becoming a reality. But as Forbes’ Duncan Smith wrote,

"“The Pistons are putting faith in their training staff, which did help Reggie Jackson play an incredible 82 games, and almost (but not quite) got Blake Griffin to the finish line last season. If their trainers and medical staff can do the same thing for Rose, the Detroit Pistons may be full of surprises for the rest of the NBA next season.”"

And Sixth Man of the Year could be a pleasant, welcomed surprise.

What are your thoughts on the Sixth Man of the Year race? I’m sure Lou Williams will further cement his legacy as one of the best bench players ever by winning the award this upcoming season. However, I think Spencer Dinwiddie could make some more noise this year or last year’s runner up Domantas Sabonis could take the crown if he continues to come off the bench.

Next. Breaking down Derrick Rose's championship dreams. dark

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