Russell Westbrook emerges as betting favorite for NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is now the frontrunner to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in the 2022-23 season.

Westbrook was moved to the bench earlier this season by head coach Darvin Ham, and he’s thrived in that role, even though it hasn’t led to many wins for the Lakers. Los Angeles is just 2-9 on the season after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

As a reserve this season, Westbrook is averaging 18.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

It’s a huge step up from his numbers as a starter. The former MVP was shooting just 28.9 percent from the field and 8.3 percent from beyond the arc in his three games as a starter this season.

Ham’s decision to move Westbrook to the bench has allowed him to control the offense more when he’s in the game. When the nine-time All-Star was playing most of his minutes alongside LeBron James, he was being used more off the ball, a role he hasn’t really played in his career.

There’s no doubt that Ham is looking to get the most out of Westbrook this season.

The Lakers coach has even said that one of his goals is to get Westbrook in the conversation to win the Sixth Man of the Year award.

The next step for the Lakers will be figuring out how to turn Westbrook’s improved play into wins.

The team ranks dead last in the NBA in 3-point percentage and offensive rating this season.

With Westbrook thriving off the bench, fans should expect Ham to keep him in that role moving forward. The former MVP has already said himself that coming off the bench is beneficial for everybody, showing that he has accepted his new role.

Westbrook and the Lakers will attempt to improve their 2-9 record on Friday when they take on the Sacramento Kings. De’Aaron Fox and the Kings have gotten out to a slow start as well, going 4-6 so far this season.

That game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. PST.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.