Should Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell be the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year?

T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

T.J. McConnell has been one of the more consistent players for the Indiana Pacers during a down season and he has arguably been the best sixth man in the league. The Pacers have needed life injected into the lineup far too often but McConnell typically steps up to the task.

Aside from missing three games to attend the birth of his child, McConnell has been a staple of Indiana’s second unit. He is playing 25.7 minutes per game, the most in his career as a bench player – he played 26.3 minutes per night in 2016-17 as a starter for the 76ers.

The Indiana Pacers have a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in T.J. McConnell

McConnell is averaging career highs in points (7.9), assists (6.7), rebounds (3.6), and field goal percentage (.557). He has also added four double-doubles and an impressive triple-double that included 10 steals against the Cavaliers in March.

With three games of 15 assists and seven games of at least 12, McConnell has been the pass-first guard the second unit needs. When needed, McConnell has stepped up as a scorer who excels from the elbow with a deadly little jumper.

While his offense is not flashy, it is a nice change of pace to have McConnell replace Brogdon and LeVert to run the offense. Rather than searching for his own shot or a two-man game with McDermott or Sabonis, McConnell always keeps the ball moving.

His excellence this season extends far beyond the offensive end of the floor as well. Defensively, McConnell has really earned the right to be considered for the Sixth Man of the Year award. His 81 steals lead the league, which is a testament to his hustle. Not many guys can lead an entire stat category off the bench.

All in all, McConnell has had a career year off the bench for the Pacers and has been massive for them on both ends of the floor. His energy is contagious and has been a beautiful pairing with Edmond Sumner over the past month or so.

The only big problem for McConnell and his case for the award is the incredible season from Jordan Clarkson with the Jazz. Clarkson is averaging 17.2 points per game and leads the league in free-throw shooting at 95.5 percent.

The Jazz are also much better than the Pacers and will compete in the playoffs much more than Indiana will, assuming the Pacers get into the dance at all. Clarkson has a clear upper hand on the award but McConnell deserves a nod at the very least.

Next. This season is too familiar for the Pacers. dark