The NBA has a shoo-in Sixth Man of the Year in Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Coming off the bench is not always as easy as Lou Williams makes it look. He led his team in scoring and assists, taking on a larger role after the Blake Griffin trade earlier in the season. The guard averaged career-best numbers across the board - all in his 13th pro season.
Williams has predominantly come of the bench his entire professional career. He was the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 2014-15 with the Toronto Raptors as well, averaging a career-best 15.5 PPG. This season he is averaging 22.6, nearly becoming an All-Star and almost pushing the Clippers to the playoffs.
A great perimeter shooter, Sweet Lou has to always be focused so he can come in firing. Coming off the bench means warming up with everyone, but then sitting to start each contest. As a sixth man, he comes in decently quickly. But what about the 7th, 8th, or 9th man?
Coming off the bench is a challenge - Embrace it
There is no denying that it is more glamorous to be a starter in your sport. There are only so many starting spots, and it is up to the coach to determine who gets them. If you come off the bench, but believe that you should be starting, you are in an excellent position to prove it.
As a reserve, you will predominantly be playing against other reserves. If you are able to stand out and effectively dominate your opponents, then that will show to not only your coach, but your teammates, and spectators. Sometimes however, that is just the most effective strategy that the team needs.
Many teams choose to bring very talented players off of the bench to balance the skill level they have on the floor at all times. Lou Williams is the leading scorer for the Clips because he can score like crazy against opposing reserves.
Donte DiVincenzo was the NCAA Finals MVP despite coming off the bench. Coming off the pine does not mean you cannot still get on a heater. Andre Iguodala came off the bench in the 2015 NBA finals and won MVP with his stellar defense.
Do not worry about starting, worry about helping the team
As we have discussed before, there is beauty in knowing your limits. If you are not given a starting opportunity, that does not mean that you cannot strive to become the team's top defender, rebounder, or playmaker. Accepting a role is one of the most important things a player can do to propel a great team.
The award is not final, but everyone and their brother can see that Lou Williams will become the 2017-18 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Congratulations to him and all of the other competing players such as Eric Gordon, Will Barton, and Missouri Valley Conference Alum Fred VanVleet.