Tyler Herro from the Miami Heat won the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award as the best reserve in the league this season, and to honor Herro, we compiled another complete OG list of winners who earned one of the NBA’s most-prestigious distinctions.
Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford hold the NBA record as a three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, and the two shooting guards are a part of a small list of multi-winners. It’s a bit surprising that only a handful of NBA players won the Sixth Man of the Year more than once, so it’s a small list that also includes Kevin McHale, Detlef Schrempf, Ricky Pierce, and Jamal Crawford.
|NBA SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR – MULTIPLE WINNERS|
- Lou Williams (3): 2015, 2018, 2019
- Jamal Crawford (3): 2010,2014, 2016
- Kevin McHale (2): 1984, 1985
- Detlef Schrempf (2): 1991, 1992
- Ricky Pierce (2): 1987, 1990
Only a handful of NBA Hall of Fame players are on the list of Sixth Man of the Year winners, which includes McHale, Bobby Jones, Bill Walton, Toni Kukoc, and Manu Ginobili.
Sixth Man Winners: SGs and PFs
Since 2005, shooting guards dominated the scene and won the Sixth Man of the Year 15 out of 17 times. Since 1983, 21 shooting guards won for the most out of any other position. It makes sense, because rule changes in the early 21st century favored guards and overall scoring flourished. The modern NBA is a guard-friendly league, compared to the old days when the gigantic trees dominated the landscape.
|NBA SIXTH MAN OF YEAR – BY POSITION|
- Shooting Guard (21)
- Power Forward (11)
- Small Forward (4)
- Point Guard (2)
- Center (2)
A non-shooting guard won the Sixth Man of the Year 19 times out of 40 instances since its inception in 1983. In the 1980s, the NBA was dominated by big men, so it was not uncommon for a power forward to come off the bench as a main scoring contributor. In the first 13 seasons, a power forward dominated the Sixth Man of the Year list with eight wins.
In the first 19 seasons, a shooting guard won the award only five times, which includes Dell Curry — the father of Steph and Seth Curry — back in 1994. A small forward won four times, but a center and point guard only won twice each.
1980s Powerful Power Forwards: McHale, Schrempf
Bobby Jones, one of Dr. J’s teammates from the Philadelphia 76ers, was the first-ever player to win the Sixth Man of the Year when the award was introduced at the start f the 1982-83 season.
Kevin McHale was a legendary member of the Boston Celtics during the Larry Bird era, but he began his career as a valuable reserve who could score, rebounds, and beat the crap out of you. McHale took over as a starter in the mid-1980s, which is why Bill Walton won the award in 1986. Walton is one of the few players along with James Harden to win the NBA MVP and Sixth Man Award.
|LIST OF NBA SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR WINNERS (1983-1993)|
|1983||Bobby Jones||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1984||Kevin McHale||Boston Celtics|
|1985||Kevin McHale **||Boston Celtics|
|1986||Bill Walton||Boston Celtics|
|1987||Ricky Pierce||Milwaukee Bucks|
|1988||Roy Tarpley||Dallas Mavericks|
|1989||Eddie Johnson||Phoenix Suns|
|1990||Ricky Pierce **||Milwaukee Bucks|
|1991||Detlef Schrempf||Indiana Pacers|
|1992||Detlef Schrempf **||Indiana Pacers|
|1993||Clifford Robinson||Portland Trail Blazers|
Ricky Pierce was a fierce competitor from the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1980s, who provided instant offense off the bench. He won the Sixth Man of the Year twice in 1987 and 1990.
Germany’s Detlef Schrempf began his career as a starter with the Dallas Mavs, but he was an important second-unit player with the Indiana Pacers with back-to-back wins in 1991 and 1992.
Mid-1990s: Point Guards and Small Forwards
Between 1994 and 2004, point guards (Darrell Armstrong, Bobby Jackson) and small forwards (Toni Kukoc, Corliss Williamson, Antawn Jamison) were the key players off the bench for many teams.
|LIST OF NBA SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR WINNERS (1994-2004)|
|1994||Dell Curry||Charlotte Hornets|
|1995||Anthony Mason||New York Knicks|
|1996||Toni Kukoc||Chicago Bulls|
|1997||John Starks||New York Knicks|
|1998||Danny Manning||Phoenix Suns|
|1999||Darrell Armstrong||Orlando Magic|
|2000||Rodney Rogers||Phoenix Suns|
|2001||Aaron McKie||Philadelphia 76ers|
|2002||Corliss Williamson||Detroit Pistons|
|2003||Bobby Jackson||Sacramento Kings|
|2004||Antawn Jamison||Dallas Mavericks|
Anthony Mason was one of the few power forwards off the bench that dominated the scene. Mason was an integral part of the halcyon days of the rough and tumble New York Knicks that began under Pat Riley and continued under Jeff Van Gundy. John Starks is another memorable member of the Knicks who won the Sixth Man during the last great era of the Knicks.
2000s: The Rise of the Shooting Guards
When the NBA eliminated handchecking and shifted to a guard-friendly league, shooting guards became a premium. Every team needed a reliable gunslinger off the bench who could light it up with the second unit. Power forward Lamar Odom and center Montrezl Harrell were the only two non-shooting guards to win Sixth Man of the Year between 2005 and present day.
|LIST OF NBA SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR WINNERS (2005-2022)|
|2005||Ben Gordon||Chicago Bulls|
|2006||Mike Miller||Memphis Grizzlies|
|2007||Leandro Barbosa||Phoenix Suns|
|2008||Manu Ginobili||San Antonio Spurs|
|2009||Jason Terry||Dallas Mavericks|
|2010||Jamal Crawford||Atlanta Hawks|
|2011||Lamar Odom||LA Lakers|
|2012||James Harden||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2013||JR Smith||New York Knicks|
|2014||Jamal Crawford **||LA Clippers|
|2015||Lou Williams||Toronto Raptors|
|2016||Jamal Crawford **||LA Clippers|
|2017||Eric Gordon||Houston Rockets|
|2018||Lou Williams **||LA Clippers|
|2019||Lou Williams **||LA Clippers|
|2020||Montrezl Harrell||LA Clippers|
|2021||Jordan Clarkson||Utah Jazz|
|2022||Tyler Herro||Miami Heat|
James Harden got his start as a sharpshooter off the bench with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he won the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012. In 2018, Harden won the MVP with the Houston Rockets and joined Bill Walton with the rare feat.
The Clippers relied on their bench to provide an offensive boost in the 2010s. Jamal Crawford is a three-time recipient but won the Sixth Man of Year twice with the Clippers in 2014 and 2016. Lou Williams is another three-time winner, but snagged the award twice with the Clippers in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Check out more of OG’s complete lists.