As the Mavericks battle for the final playoff spot, one bench player is quietly making his case to the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. This year, Vince Carter is averaging 12 points, 2.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Per 36 minutes Carter is averaging 17.7 points, 3.9 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
Carter is the team’s 3rd leading scorer, trailing only behind starting guard Monta Ellis and Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki. His microwave-like instant offense has given Dallas the number one scoring bench in the league at 41.1 points per game. While his playing style has certainly changed over the years, his ability to create his own shot and spread the floor with Brandan Wright and Devin Harris has helped the Mavericks become one of the most efficient shooting teams in the league.
As it always has and always will be with Carter, you can argue that he make some questionable shot selections a couple of times a game.Then he reminds you he is still Vince Carter with highlight reel worthy plays likes this and this. He has also had a strong showing late in the season to keep the Mavs in the playoff race:
Before Harris returned to the lineup, it felt like the bench could only perform as well as Carter. Now that he has another player to take the burden of running the flow offense, he is able to create better match-ups for himself and other players on the court. The rapport between him, Harris and Wright has given the Mavs and Dirk’s knees a fighter’s chance at the last playoff spot in the West.
However, Carter is not a clear-cut favorite. Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls forward has been a priceless commodity for 4th place Bulls averaging 13.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson has certainly made his case with 13.4 points and 4.2 assists per game, however he did start 34 games in Russell Westbrook’s absence, so he has only come of the bench 40 times this season. In just his third year, Markieff Morris has given the Phoenix Suns 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds off the bench. Jamal Crawford is putting up 18.6 points per game, but did start 23 games and is a previous Sixth Man award winner so the odds may not be in his favor.
Although the field is deep to be this year’s Sixth Man of the Year, Vince Carter certainly has a shot or should at least be considered, especially if he is able to help get the Mavericks into the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.