NAB betting advice for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year
Last year's NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award winner, Tyler Herro, came out of the starting gate quickly, averaging nearly 22 points per game over the first month of the season and basically lapped the field in taking home the trophy.
Now almost three months into the 2022-23 season, the picture is not so clear with a host of viable candidates. Where’s the value? Let’s take a look at the field.
Russell Westbrook (BetOnline +125)
The former MVP began the season as a starter, but after an 0-4 start, Lakers coach Darvin Ham thought it was in the best interest of the team to bring him off the bench. Westbrook has filled up the stat sheet, averaging 14.5 points, 7.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds, but he’s been one of the least efficient players in the league. Westbrook’s true shooting percentage of 48.3% ranks him in the bottom one percent, while he’s tied for fifth in the league in turnovers at 3.6 per game and has an on/off rating of -0.6.
Final Take: Westbrook’s lack of efficiency and impact hurts his cause and if the Lakers continue to falter it would make it difficult for him to win the award. As the betting favorite, there is no value.
Jordan Poole (DraftKings +475)
The 23-year old guard has had a Jekyll and Hyde season. Poole has played like an All Star as a starter, but has really struggled off the bench. The numbers clearly bare that out.
Starter:26.8 ppg FG% 44.0 3PT FG% 30.7 FT% 89.1 (20 games)
Bench: 14.1 ppg FG% 40.1 3PT FG% 31.1 FT% 79.2 (19 games)
Poole has started more games now than he has played off the bench and that would disqualify him for the award if that was the case at the end of the season. He's been in the starting lineup since Steph Curry went down with a shoulder injury Dec. 14, but that may change shortly with GM Bob Myers saying on
Wednesday that Curry could return as early as Jan. 13, when the Warriors visit the Spurs.
Final Take: Poole has been inconsistent and is having a down season from last year, but the voters for this award lean to players who are microwave scorers, so Poole will be very much in the conversation for the rest of the season. At +475 he is worth a play.
Ben Mathurin (FanDuel +1200)
The Indiana Pacers’ rookie is attempting to become the only first-year player to win both the Sixth Man of the Year and Rookie of the Year Awards. The Sixth Man award is heavily slanted toward players who can fill up the scoring column, and that’s good news for Mathurin, who is averaging 17.4 ppg, which is the second highest mark among the leading candidates. Mathurin's ability to get to the foul line has been a big asset, as he's averaged six free throws per game while shooting 81.5% from the line.
Final Take: Mathurin's ability to get buckets gives him a legitimate shot to contend for the award. And if Buddy Hield gets dealt, that will only increase his chances. Mathurin is worth an investment at this price.
Malik Monk (Bovada +1800)
The Sacramento Kings have been one of the surprise stories of the season and Monk has played a critical role off the bench with his scoring and playmaking, averaging 14.1 points and 3.9 assists per game. First-year Kings coach Mike Brown touted Monk for the award in late November saying, "Malik Monk should get some mention for Sixth Man of the Year. I’m just putting that out there. Again, Malik Monk should get some mention for Sixth Man of the Year." But, since that point Monk has struggled tremendously, shooting just 38.8% from the floor and 28.2% from three over his last 17 games.
Final Take: Monk is scoring a career-high 14.1 ppg, but that kind of production won't get it done. Also, he's averaging just 23 mpg and 11.2 field goal attempts, which makes it awfully tough to put up the kind of numbers necessary to win the award. This is a no play.
Malcolm Brogdon (Bovada +400)
In his first season with the Celtics, Brogdon is putting up solid numbers across the board, averaging 13.1 points, 3.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. He's been an extremely efficient scorer, with an effective field goal percentage of 55.2%, while shooting 87.8% from the line. But like Monk, his production has dropped over the last month. In his past fourteen games he’s averaging only 11.5 ppg, while shooting just 41.5% from the floor and 32.7% from three-point range.
Final Take: Brogdon stated earlier in the season that he doesn't care about winning the award and that the only thing that matters to him is winning a championship. He also doesn't have the scorer's mentality that is typical of past award winners and that certainly could be a roadblock to winning. With short odds on Brodgon, this is a no play.
Norman Powell (Bovada +1400)
After struggling in the opening month of the season, in which he averaged just 10.9 ppg and shot 37.7% from the field and 22.6% from deep, Powell is putting up the kind of numbers that will keep him in contention for the award. Since November, he's averaging 15.5 ppg and is shooting 49.3% from the floor and 42.8% from three.
Final Take: Powell has established himself as a consistent and efficient scorer over the last three seasons and he’s sure to get steady minutes with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and John Wall being load managed. I believe Powell is being undervalued and is a play at +1400.
Roy Tarpley. Why do I mention that name? That’s because he’s the only Sixth Man of the Year winner to average a double-double. In the 1987-88 season while playing for the Dallas Mavericks, Tarpley put up 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The only other player on record to average a double-double off the bench is Paul Silas, who accomplished that feat in the 1974-75 season with the Boston Celtics. Fast forward to this season and Portis is not only averaging a double-double (14.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg), but is tied for third most in the league with 23 with teammate Giannis Atentokounmpo and only trailing Domantas Sabonis (28) and Nikola Jokic (26). MVP favorite Luka Donic has 19. Portis doesn’t light up the scoreboard as much as the typical sixth man candidate, but the others don’t bring the huge impact on the boards and defensively as he does. He’s ninth in the NBA in rebounding, and in some cases his analytics rank him ahead of the likes of Atentokounmpo, Sabonis, Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert.
Final Take: The oddsmakers and media are vastly underrating Portis. I originally played him at +10,000 but he’s still the best value on the board at +2700.
Andy Roth has been involved in the gambling business most of his adult life. Andy is best known for taking player and team props early in the season at long odds. Follow Andy on Twitter at @arhooptalk.