NBA future predictions: Sixth Man of the Year still up for grabs

We’re days away from 2023, and this year’s NBA awards field is starting to take shape. Today we take a look at the Sixth Man Award race, where Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is the favorite at +160 (FanDuel).

As usual, Westbrook is posting impressive numbers this year, averaging 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists. But the Lakers’ season is collapsing. At 14-20, LA is in danger of dropping out of playoff contention in the West.

Besides, it’s not like Westbrook is doing much to keep his team afloat. His plus-minus this season sits at a terrible -1.77 per game so far. It doesn’t take a numbers junkie to realize that Westbrook is doing this team more harm than good.

It will take a huge second half of the season and a healthy Anthony Davis for the Lakers to finish above .500. No player has won the Sixth Man Award on a losing team since Detlef Schrempf won it with the Indiana Pacers 40-42 in 1991-92 (!), which is why we’re targeting three players a bit lower on the betting table to win the prize. Here are some Sixth Man of the Year picks, with odds from FanDuel.

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NBA Forward Predictions: Sixth Man of the Year Picks

Jordan Poole (+350, FanDuel)

Poole sits just behind Westbrook with the second best odds in the field. The 23-year-old guard has slipped back slightly this season in terms of shooting, but he’s still posting strong scores, averaging 19.6 points per game this season.

Poole played for the Warriors in their championship run last season, showing he could be the third Splash Brother and help extend that Golden State dynasty with his youth. His name recognition and stunning scoring numbers will keep him among the favorites throughout the season.

Jordan Poole
Jordan Poole
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Like Westbrook, Poole’s team may miss the playoffs, but I like the defending champions’ chances to get back above .500 and be in the Western Conference playoff draw.

There is also a risk here as to whether he will even be considered a candidate for this award by the end of the year. Poole has started 16 games this year, and each of the last 12 has come down to a Steph Curry shoulder injury. If that number continues to rise, voters can opt for other players who truly fit the “sixth man” role.

But if he stays below around 30 starts, Poole’s case will be as good as anyone’s.

Benoit Mathurin (+1000, FanDuel)

Mathurin is looking to become the first to win the Sixth Man of the Year award in his rookie season since Ben Gordon did so in 2004-05. He is also in on it, with the fourth-best odds in the field.

The sixth pick in last year’s draft, Mathurin was everything the Indiana Pacers hoped for and more. He’s averaging 17.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while hitting the free throw line 5.5 times per game. He and Tyrese Haliburton have proven to be one of the most promising backcourt duos in the NBA.

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Winning the Sixth Man prize could be a sort of consolation prize for Mathurin. He currently has the second best odds (+500) to win the coveted Rookie of the Year award. Still, he trails heavily favored Paolo Banchero (-650), who plays himself in the All-Star conversation.

There’s also some value here in that many NBA rookies tend to take big leaps in the second half of their freshman season. This may just be the start of one of the best rookie seasons in recent NBA history.

Bobby Portis (+3400, FanDuel)

Portis has been a double-double machine for the Bucks this season, so it’s surprising to see him so low on FanDuel’s odds chart.

Bobby Portis
Bobby Portis
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He’s averaging 13.4 points and 10 rebounds per game so far. His 12 double-doubles off the bench lead the NBA, and he’s entering territory few sixth men have reached. Only eight different players have had at least 20 double-doubles on the bench in a single season, and Portis is on track to hit that number.

The team’s success will also be huge for Portis’ chances. At 22-11, the Bucks currently have the second-best record in the NBA, and they’re definitely not going anywhere. As mentioned earlier, the winner of this award usually comes from a winning team.

There’s a ton of value in this line, in particular, too. Portis is +1000 at BetRivers to win the prize. Back Portis to +3400 before bettors further align with their peers.

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