Jordan Clarkson is the betting favorite to be the NBA 6th Man of the Year this year. And for good reason. Through the first half of the season, Clarkson was an absolute killer of the bench. Look at his numbers through the first 28 games:
- 18.2 points (25.3 per36)
- 4.1 rebounds
- 2.1 assists
- 39% from 3
- 114 Offensive Rating
- 109 Defensive Rating
- 60% True Shooting Percentage
He was the runaway favorite for the year. It honestly looked like his reward to lose, but he’s cooled off quite a bit since then. He’s still the current favorite, but those odds are no longer as far in his favor. And who is making up the most ground?
His own teammate, Joe Ingles.
And if Ingles continues the way he’s playing right now, he probably does end up catching him. Joe Ingles is in the middle of an unprecedented season for a non-big. Don’t believe me?
- He currently has the best single-season effective field-goal percentage of any perimeter player in NBA history.
- He’s hit exactly half of his 246 3’s so far (#’s prior to last night’s game)
- No player under 7 ft has been in the top 10 for single-season eFG%. Not a single one. Ingles is currently in 4th.
- He’s the league leader in True Shooting %. The distance from Ingles to 2nd place is as big as the distance from 2nd to 19th.
Joe Ingles is just automatic right now. It’s insane. And he’s been sustaining it over a shocking number of games as well. I mean, we are nearly 50 games in to the season and he’s at 50% from three as a high-volume 3 point shooter.
But that’s not all he does. He’s crucial to the playmaking and ball handling off the bench as well. His Assist to Turnover Ration of 2.56 is 2nd only to Mike Conley. So he’s not just a perfect floor spacer when he enters the game. He’s a great facilitator and offensive initiator as well. To prove his overall value, his offensive rating is 136! On the best offensive team in the league by the way. He has more win shares than Nikola Vucevic, Khris Middleton, and Jamal Murray. More than Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, and Jason Tatum. More than Paul George, Gordon Hayward, and Paskal Siakam.
So the Jazz have 2 bonafide 6th Man of the Year candidates. Jordan Clarkson has been the favorite all year. But should he be now?
- Points: Clarkson 17.3 - Ingles 12.0
- Rebounds: Clarkson 4.0 - Ingles 3.7
- Assists: Clarkson 2.2 - Ingles 4.1
- TS%: Clarkson 55.3% -Ingles 73.6%
- O Rtg: Clarkson 109 - Ingles 136
- D Rtg: Clarkson 110 - Ingles 110
- Win Shares: 2.9 - Ingles 5.2
- VORP: Clarkson 1.0 - Ingles 2.1
- Raptor: Clarkson 3.7 - Ingles 4.7
- LeBron: Clarkson 0.66 - Ingles 1.73
Now, the good part is that the Jazz have both of them. I don’t truly want to pin them against each other. They’ve both had some fun and huge moments for the Jazz this year. They are both valuable pieces to this league-best roster. But basically all of the advanced stats indicate that Joe Ingles is more important and more impactful for Utah than Jordan Clarkson. And the on court presence has felt more and more like that as well.
Joe Ingles biggest obstacles in voters’ minds will likely be that 12.0 points per game. You have to go back to Aaron McKie 2001 to find a 6th Man winner that scored less per game. That being said, Jamal Crawford at 14.2 in 2016 isn’t that far off. And aside from Montrezl Harrell last season, Ingles has a better field goal percentage than every 6th Man winner since 1995! So what if he doesn’t have as much volume as most 6th Man winners, he’s more effective and efficient than most instead.
So if the voters are willing to look past something simple like raw scoring, then I think there will be a new favorite by season’s end. And the once-undrafted, cut by the Clippers signing by the Utah Jazz back in 2015 may take home some much-deserved hardware at the ripe age of 33.
Either way, we’ve been blessed with his presence and should enjoy him for as long as he lasts.