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Frontrunners for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award: Austin Reaves and Tim Hardaway Jr.

In the NBA, the relative strength of the top teams' starting rosters is most crucial when it comes to winning games regularly. However, a strong sense of depth is also required from the bench, and most vitally, each team can be massively boosted by a top-quality sixth man who leads the second unit.

The typical sixth man of each team is usually a player who has the quality to start for their franchise. Veterans often take up this role to help out the less experienced players on the backend of the rotation.

This means that the Sixth Man of the Year award is always hotly contested, with several exceptionally skilled players vying for the prestigious prize - earning them the theoretical position of leading bench player across the NBA

. Several frontrunners for the award have presented themselves in the early stages of the current season.

Austin Reaves

Austin Reaves has been a key contributor from the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, which has helped them to emerge as championship contenders this season. They're seen as realistic winners by sportsbooks all around the world, including the likes of Betfair Philippines, who currently offer them as +1200 slight outsiders.

It's worth noting that the globalization of the franchise continues on at full pace - the league and the Lakers are rapidly growing in Southeast Asia, so it's perhaps unsurprising that Bets-PH has assembled a range of odds and bonus offers that align with the NBA being broadcasted in the Philippines for the first team this season.

While the Lakers have an immense starting five, Reaves' added scoring threat from the bench has played a huge part in their strong early form too. He averaged playing 29.4 minutes per night over the opening 22 fixtures, in which he put up 14 points per game - on an impressive field goal percentage of 46.4% - 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

Reaves is far more than a scorer off the bench: he's an all-rounder who offers creativity and resilience on defense too.

Reaves began the season slowly as a starter, and since moving to the bench he has become arguably the NBA's greatest sixth man so far this season. If he can sustain his form, then he should be a firm frontrunner for the award at the end of the regular season.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Throughout the off-season, there were persistent rumors of Tim Hardaway Jr. potentially being involved in a trade away from the Dallas Mavericks. However, the Texas-based team kept him around and that has proven to be an invaluable decision.

Hardaway Jr. has offered remarkable consistency while leading the rotation. His usage rate has averaged a couple of minutes less at 27.5% compared to Reaves this season, yet he put up 16.8 points per game over the first 17 games of 2023/24 that he played in.

The Mavericks' sixth man however has not delivered the level of all-round performances that Reaves has regularly displayed. With an average of 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, he's fairly average besides his ability to score frequently off the bench.

On the balance of things, the Sixth Man award is undoubtedly Reaves' to lose. He has offered a complete package from the rotation that nobody else can compare to so far this campaign

. The biggest threat to his route to winning the award could be if he breaks back into the Lakers' starting five. In that case, Hardaway will surely claim the reputable prize at his expense, as he will certainly not displace Kyrie Irving in the Mavericks starting five.

Regardless, a member of this duo will likely claim the prize and the award will go to a player that could in truth start for many teams across the NBA.