Montrezl Harrell is the reigning sixth man of the year. Entering this season he was a major candidate to become the sixth player to ever win this award multiple times and just the fourth to do so consecutively. However, after a slow start to the season, people began to forget about Harrell. Their focus shifted to the new 6MOTY favorite, Jordan Clarkson. As of March 24th, Clarkson is a -1000 favorite for the award while Harrell is only at +2000.
Based on these betting odds, it would seem an impossible hurdle for Harrell to catch Clarkson, but their season statistics say otherwise.
Montrezl Harrell is making a run at 6MOTY
Why is Clarkson such a heavy favorite?
In order to get to Harrell’s case for the best bench player, first, it must be understood why the current favorite is considered as such. Clarkson plays for the number one seeded Utah Jazz. When one is on the team with the best record in the league, it is going to garner positive attention from voters. On top of that, Clarkson got off to a crazy hot start to begin the year.
Through 22 games, Clarkson was averaging just under 18 points per game on 47-39-97 splits. That is unbelievably efficient. The sixth man of the year award tends to go to whoever scores the most points off the bench, so Clarkson scoring at this rate with this efficiency made him a lock to win. However, he has not quite played at the same level since then.
In the 22 games since that point, Clarkson is scoring only 16 points per game and his efficiency dropped dramatically. He’s shooting just 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. His past 10 games look even worse. Just over 13 points per game on 33 percent from the field and 29 percent from deep. Overall his averages still look decent but he should not be the frontrunner he once was a few weeks ago.
The Re-emergence of Trez
The NBA is a “what have you done for me lately” type of league. So the fact that Harrell had a slow start while Clarkson was heating up should be a moot point. Harrell was trying to figure out his role on the Los Angeles Lakers and started off a little clunky. He was averaging just under 13 points per game with six rebounds to boot. Both would be his lowest marks since 2018.
However, with the injuries to Anthony Davis and now LeBron James, Harrell is making a case the award should be his to lose. Over the past 10 games, Harrell is scoring 21 points per game on an eye-popping 66 percent from the field with eight rebounds as well as one steal and one block. This stretch of games has upped Harrell’s season averages to 15 points on 63.8 percent from the field, with almost seven rebounds per game.
Only three other players in NBA history have ever had a season meeting or exceeding those averages and two of them were All-Stars. With Davis’ timetable for return being this uncertain, Harrell should see plenty of minutes and touches to boot. And it’s not as if he is stat padding on some lottery team either.
The Lakers are the defending NBA champions and are currently in the middle of the playoff race so the winning factor should not hurt his case any more than it helps Clarkson’s.
When comparing just their season stats against each other so far, Harrell has the clear edge. He wins in far more categories. Rebounding, shot-blocking, overall efficiency (FG/EFG/TS%) as well as advanced statistics. Harrell has a PER of 23.2, a BPM of 3.1, and a WS/48 of .235. These are all far higher than Clarkson who has a 16.6 PER, .9 BPM, and .100 WS/48. It’s not even close.
This doesn’t even take into account their on-court impact. When Clarkson is on the court for the Jazz, they are about half a point worse per 100 possessions than when he is off the court. Harrell on the other makes the Lakers about 1.2 points better per 100 possessions when he is on the court versus off.
So overall when one considers the fact that Harrell already has better numbers than Clarkson while also trending in opposite directions, it is clear as day that Harrell is not only in the sixth man of the year race, he’s leading it.
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