The NBA announced its finalists for all the major, end-of-season awards today, with the top 3 candidates (in votes) for each category getting shouted out on Twitter. The field that the Clippers were most likely to win was Sixth Man of the Year, and sure enough, both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are in the top 3 of votes getters for the award.
Lou and Montrezl powered the Clippers’ historic bench unit, with the combined reserves scoring over 53 points per game, the most by any bench in well over 20 years. Lou and Trez, together, averaged 36.6 points per game, making them the highest scoring bench duo of the modern NBA era. The synergy they displayed was incredible to watch, and they were one of the most fun pick and roll forces to ever don Clippers’ jerseys.
Lou, 32, has already won the award twice, including last season. He led bench players in both points and assists per game this season at 20 and 5.4 respectively, and was the most impactful player on the Clippers’ roster by Net Rating. When Lou was on the court, the Clippers’ offense was one of the best in the NBA. When he sat, they were with the bottom dwellers of the league. His ability to get to the line, create off the dribble, and play off ball made him invaluable, and he’s the clear frontrunner for the award for good reason.
Montrezl, 25, had his true breakout season after playing a significant role for last year’s Clippers team as well. Averaging 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game, Trez was the linchpin of many of the Clippers’ best lineups playing center, despite being undersized. He improved his defense and playmaking in particular, developing a knack for swatting away shots at the rim and making passes out of the short roll on offense. He was a leading candidate for Most Improved Player early in the season, but fell behind the other vote getters (Pascal Siakam, D’Angelo Russell, and De’Aaron Fox), who all had higher-profile seasons. Nonetheless, placing in the top three of the Sixth Man award is a nice show of appreciation for Montrezl’s season, even if he’s unlikely to win.
The third nominee for the award is Pacers’ big man Domantas Sabonis, who I guess will finish 2nd in the race. Lou will almost certainly claim the win, and by a significant margin, but it’s really cool that the Clippers placed two guys in the top three. Congrats to Lou and Trez! The votes were extremely well deserved.