Tuesday, December 5, 2023

NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon, Immanuel Quickley’s case for award

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While the NBA’s MVP discourse has taken up most of air when it comes to award seasons, there are still worthy discussions when it comes to other accolades. Jayson Tatum has fallen off the MVP discussions after a hot start to the season, though he should be in the talks for another first-team All-NBA appearance.

Another Celtic — who’s sacrificed a lot for the team — is also firmly in the mix for another award: Sixth Man of the Year. Enter Malcolm Brogdon, who hasn’t started a game this season and is the clear leader of the Celtics’ bench group. The 30-year-old is one of two contenders for the sixth-man award, which stipulates that a player must come off the bench more games than he has started.

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The early favorite for the award was Russell Westbrook, when he was a super sixth man for the Lakers. But his production has tailed off, along with movement that ultimately landed him with the Clippers.

Brogdon and the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley are the two favorites for the award. While Brogdon had a lead in the race just recently, Quickley has pushed ahead of Brogdon when it comes to the betting odds. According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Quickley is the favorite to the win the award with -280 odds. Brogdon is second with +210 odds as Quickley has opened up a noticeable enough lead. (A distance third-best odds is Bobby Portis at +4600, tied for fourth are Malik Monk and Austin Reaves at +8000).

Here’s a look at the basic numbers when it comes to comparing each player’s case:

Player GP (starts) MPG PPG RPG APG
Malcolm Brogdon 63 (0) 25.7 14.6 4.2 3.7
Immanuel Quickely 76 (17) 28.6 14.2 4.0 3.3

The counting stats are similar between both players. Brogdon is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, which props up his true shooting percentage significantly.

Realistically, Quickley’s case has been bolstered because he had an impressive month of March. He had a slow start to the season as he wasn’t getting as much playing time. But as the Knicks have called on Quickley more, he’s produced solid numbers. He’s averaging 20.1 points per game in March, and coupled with a 40-point outing against the Rockets, his recent play has bolstered Quickley’s case recently.

Quickley has also benefited from games where he’s started. While he comfortably fits the Sixth Man of the Year award rules, his numbers where he plays more minutes helps his case and counting stats. Quickley has averaged 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 39.2 minutes per game in his 17 starts. In contrast, his bench averages are 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his other 59 games. That’s not a knock on him as first bench options are often called upon for spot starts.

Brogdon, in contrast, has solely come off the bench for the Celtics this season. That’s partly a nod to Boston’s depth, where it can insert another capable player into the starting lineup. The C’s have enjoyed Brogdon’s production off the bench as he can come in and be a primary scorer with the depth players. Even amid injuries, the Celtics have opted to keep Brogdon as the sixth man option.

Where Brogdon has a solid edge is in the efficiency category. Brogdon has a 61.9% true-shooting percentage, which is helped significantly by his career-best 44.7% 3-point percentage. Quickley slides in at a 57.7% true-shooting percentage.

Quickley also gets some extra credit points for being available for almost all of the Knicks’ games. Brogdon has mostly been healthy this season, but he’s taken a night off here and there for small injuries. That’s been beneficial for the Celtics and Brogdon as the injury prone guard hasn’t missed extended time.

There are only six games left in the Celtics’ season, meaning there are only so many opportunities where Brogdon can add to his Sixth Man of the Year case. As of now, it appears Quickley is set to win the award. But a few big games from Brogdon could change that narrative. If the Celtics also climb their way to the top of the East — which feels unlikely after the Wizards loss — that could also bolster Brogdon’s case.

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