Bench production can be the difference in a basketball game, which is why the NBA recognizes sixth men who made the most impact in games. Heading into the 2021-22 season, substitutes are expected to make meaningful contributions to give their teams the best chance of winning.
The LA Clippers have always gotten the most out of their bench players in recent years. Of the seven past NBA Sixth Man of the Year winners, four played for the Clippers.
With roster changes and movement during the offseason, player roles and responsibilities will vary slightly. While some might continue to play as sixth men, others might be promoted to the starting lineup. In the same vein, a few starters might drop to the bench to lead the second unit.
Regardless, it will be intriguing to see how teams shape up ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season. Getting off to a great start will be dependent on how the bench can keep up the intensity when the starters are taking a breather.
5 Favorites for the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award
#5 Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson is in his third year in the NBA and has continued to produce for the Dallas Mavericks off the bench. Substituting an astute player like Luka Doncic comes with a lot of pressure, but Brunson has handled it with absolute poise.
Brunson played 25 minutes per game and averaged 12.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. His efficiency is also note-worthy, as he registered a career-high 52.3% from the field.
#4 Dennis Schroder
Dennis Schroder was part of a controversial 2021 NBA offseason as no team opted to add him to their roster. He rejected an $84 million contract extension from the LA Lakers because he valued himself way higher. In the end, the Boston Celtics signed him for $5.9 million to a one-year deal.
Given how things went, Schroder will strive to prove himself once again as things didn't go great during his one-year stint with the Lakers. It was more of a fit problem than anything else as he found it difficult to function with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the court.
The battle for a starting role in Boston will be fierce as Josh Richardson was also acquired during the offseason. Regardless, Richardson might get the nod to play alongside Marcus Smart, which will mean Schroder will come off the bench once again in his NBA career.
Schroder had one of the best runs of his career coming off the bench during the 2019-20 NBA season. With so much to prove heading into the new season, he will likely be the best version of himself.
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