SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Through most of the season, Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has been the runaway favorite to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. But recently, he’s found competition from an unexpected source — teammate Joe Ingles.
Clarkson leads all bench scorers in the NBA at 17.5 points per game while acting as the face of the Jazz bench. However, a tweet from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton suddenly threw Ingles name into the discussion.
“Reserve WARP leaders.” Pelton tweeted, looking at the Wins Above Replacement Player ratings. “Are we talking about the right Jazz player for the Sixth Man Award?”
Ingles leads the NBA among reserves in WARP while averaging a career-high 12.3 points per game and shooting a league-best 49 percent from the three-point line.
While there’s discussion outside the Jazz locker room about who deserves the award, neither Jazz player is caught up in the battle.
“I’ve never in my life, definitely not in the last couple of years coming off the bench honestly thought about it,” Ingles said of the award.
“We’ve never honestly had a conversation about or talked about it. He’s never talked about it, at least not in front of our group.”
Clarkson had mentioned wanting to win the award early in the season but has made little mention of the award since before the All-Star break.
“I’m chilling, I’m cool where I’m at,” Clarkson said in February. “I’m trying to go get that Sixth Man and win us some games.”
But when asked about the competition with Ingles, Clarkson again deferred the award to team success.
“We’re just out there hooping, doing what we do, and playing our roles,” Clarkson said. “I feel like we’re the best two bench players in the league right now, so I figure that just shows how good of a team we are.”
Though neither Ingles or Clarkson were willing to campaign for themselves for the award, Coach Quin Snyder believes the two players have helped one another improve their games.
“I think those two guys complement each other really well in that sense that,” Snyder said. “JC has been able to see some of the playmaking stuff that Joe does and Joe has been able to see Jordan’s aggressiveness. And hopefully, they both encourage each other to play defense.”