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Tom Thibodeau endorses Taj Gibson for Sixth Man of the Year consideration

Jan 21, 2014, 5:08 PM EDT

Taj Gibson

Taj Gibson is one of the NBA’s top reserves.

He’s a first-rate defender, solid rebounder and generally effective scorer.

But does he deserve Sixth Man of the Year consideration? Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is obviously biased, but he’s campaigning for his backup big.

Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Lakers swingman Nick Young, who was averaging 16.7 points off the bench, is a leading contender for the Sixth Man Award and didn’t hurt his credentials with 17 points in the first half Monday against the Bulls. But reserve big man Taj Gibson, Young’s former teammate at USC, deserves consideration, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

‘‘Taj, to me, is a starter,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s had a fantastic year. He can score, he defends, can play multiple positions. Whatever you ask him to do, he does.’’

Gibson finished fifth in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2012, but he definitely won’t win the award this year.

Despite everything he does well – Chicago allows 4.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Gibson on the floor vs. him off – his contributions are not obvious enough to sway voters.

Gibson averages 11.8 points per game, 13th among players eligible for Sixth Man of the Year – all but eliminating him from winning the award.

Half of all Sixth Man of the Year winners have led eligible players* in scoring. Six of the last seven winners have been the top-scoring reserve, and the lone exception, Lamar Odom in 2011, ranked second (behind Jason Terry).

Gibson would be the lowest-ranking scorer to win the award since Anthony Mason (21st in 1995). Bill Walton (63rd in 1986) and Bobby Jones (33rd in 1983) are the only other players to win while ranking lower in scoring.

*Players who’ve come off the bench in more games than they started

Here’s how each Sixth Man of the Year winner, and Gibson this year, ranked in scoring among eligible players:


Of course, there’s nothing wrong with leading reserves in scoring, as Jamal Crawford (17.3 points per game) is doing this season. I just think voters should consider other factors, too.

That doesn’t mean Gibson should win the award, either. In fact, Manu Ginobili (ninth at 12.7 points per game) would be my mid-season pick. He’s meshed perfectly with the Spurs, helping them on both ends of the floor.

Hopefully, Thibodeau will open eyes about how to assess sixth men, but that still doesn’t mean Gibson would be the primary beneficiary. This year, it might be Ginobili whose beneath-the-radar contributions are most valuable.

But we’d all be smarter if we listen to at least why Thibodeau is stumping for Gibson.

  1. shanelsweet - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    You’ve got to play for a winner guys! I hope we don’t start giving awards like the SMOTY to folks that are playing for losing teams.

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      Individual awards are not team awards broski. Team awards come in the form of a Larry O’Brien.

  2. kcoral - Jan 21, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Despite your irrational dislike of all things Cavs, Waiters is a candidate…

  3. 00maltliquor - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    Is anyone else impressed with Jamal Crawford? I mean, he’s 33 years old and not showing any signs of slowing down. As a matter of fact it seems he gets better with age. I’m not saying he should be 6th man (although I don’t see why not, he’s in the convo) but the guy still has his speed and quickness and has been playing forever. Am I the only one who’s thought about this?

  4. pudgalvin - Jan 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    I’m more for Thibs gettin coach of the year. Again, how many teams lose their best and 2nd or 3rd best player, depending on who you ask, I’d be more inclined to say 3rd best, and still have their team playing .500? I know, .500 is .500, but the Bulls are basically using an 8 man rotation with a guy signed off the street and a low 1st round rookie as part of that rotation and they’re still competetive. I think the only competition again is Pops. I hope Thibs can weather the storm this year and stick around for a while, because he’s as good a coach as this league has.

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