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Top 5 Sixth Men in the NBA heading into the 2021-22 season

Jordan Clarkson #00 is the heavy favorite to win the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award
Jordan Clarkson #00 is the heavy favorite to win the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award

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 #13 of the Dallas Mavericks
Jalen Brunson #13 of the Dallas Mavericks

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 will play the 2021-22 NBA season with the Boston Celtics
Dennis Schroder will play the 2021-22 NBA season with the Boston Celtics

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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#3 Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose #4 of the New York Knicks
Derrick Rose #4 of the New York Knicks

Derrick Rose was a finalist in the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year rankings after receiving one first-place vote. Despite sustaining career-ending injuries on several occasions, Rose has bounced back time and time again.

Although he is not as explosive as he was early in his career, the veteran guard showed bursts of brilliance in the 2020-21 NBA season for the New York Knicks. He was their best player during the playoffs, averaging 19.4 points, four rebounds and five assists.

The New York Knicks signed Kemba Walker during the offseason to bolster their ranks ahead of the 2021-22 season. Tom Thibodeau will once again require Rose to lead the second unit.


#2 Patty Mills

Patty Mills of Team Australia celebrates with his bronze medal
Patty Mills of Team Australia celebrates with his bronze medal

Patty Mills has held the San Antonio Spurs together for a while from the bench. Throughout his 12-year NBA career, he has been a rotation player and has excelled at it.

The Brooklyn Nets lacked depth in the 2020-21 NBA season and have sought to reconcile that with the signing of Mills. With every team in search of All-Star caliber players, this could be the most under-the-radar signing that will prove the most productive.

Mills' showing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is proof that the veteran guard still got it. He put 42 past Luka Doncic and Slovenia to secure a bronze medal for the Aussies.

Getting Mills was an absolute steal for the Nets as he will be adding to an already lethal Nets shooting team. He shot 37.5% from beyond the arc during the 2020-21 NBA season and considering the difficulty of most of his shots, that's an incredible number.


#1 Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz
Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz

With the 2021-22 season a month away, Jordan Clarkson has already opened as the heavy favorite to win the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

Clarkson won the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award to become the first Utah Jazz player to receive such an honor. He finished the season as the second-best scorer on the team despite playing considerably fewer minutes and started only one game of the 68 he featured in.

Given how efficient the 28-year-old was last season, things are looking up as chances are that he will get better. He will continue to produce off the bench during the 2021-22 NBA season for a Jazz backcourt led by Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell.

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Edited by Parimal
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