Can Malik Monk Lock Down the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
Can Malik Monk Lock Down the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award?

It's finally March, and the NBA playoffs are right around the corner. While teams compete to secure playoff bids or strengthen their chances of winning a high draft pick, individual players are polishing off resumes for the season's coveted awards.

You can find betting odds for any of the 2023-24 season's awards on FanDuel Sportsbook's NBA Awards Betting Odds market. While some of these awards have had steady frontrunners from front to back, the Sixth Man of the Year Award race has seen some pretty major shakeups since even the NBA All-Star break.

Let's take a look at the current Sixth Man of the Year Betting Odds as the season enters its final stretch.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Betting Odds

Previous Odds
Malik MonkSacramento Kings-260-115
Norman PowellLos Angeles Clippers+650+750
Caris LeVertCleveland Cavaliers+900+1900
Naz ReidMinnesota Timberwolves+1200+8000
Bobby PortisMilwaukee Bucks+2100+10000
Tim Hardaway Jr.Dallas Mavericks+2200+220
Bogdan BogdanovicAtlanta Hawks+10000+2900
View Full Table

In the two weeks since FanDuel Research's Annie Nader checked in on the Sixth Man race there have been some pretty massive shakeups.

Former frontrunner Tim Hardaway Jr. (+2200) has seen his bid fall off mightily since the All-Star break, while sixth men from the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves have surged up the odds listings to become serious competitors.

The Sixth Man of the Year Award can be particularly context-dependent compared to some other awards. Not only does the winner need to be worthy from a statistical standpoint, but he needs to help his team put up strong numbers in the W column, too.

Over the last 10 awards, each winner's team has finished no worse than second place in their own division. All but two of the last 10 winners have played on teams that finished fourth or better in their conference, and only one player hailed from a team that finished with fewer than 48 wins -- Lou Williams really had a stranglehold on the award for a few years.

The strength of a player's team has seemed to only gain gravity in recent years. Each of the last three winners has played on 50-win teams that finished first or second in their respective conferences.

That helps explain why former contenders like Bogdan Bogdanovic (+10000) and Jordan Clarkson (+10000) have seen their once-strong cases fall off. The Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz are each pacing to finish the season with losing records after decent starts to the year.

So which players have the individual stats and teams around them to really make a case for the Sixth Man of the Year Award? Let's take a look at some of each contender's stats and contributions to their teams and then dive into their individual cases.

Malik Monk15.416.22.8
Norman Powell13.613.93.3
Caris LeVert1414.52.7
Naz Reid12.315.43.7
Bobby Portis13.116.83.5
Tim Hardaway Jr.16.312.51.6

Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (-260)

Based on the betting odds, Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk has only seemed to solidify his case since FanDuel Research's last check-in. But are the Kings competitive enough to land Monk the award this season?

In an ultra-competitive Western Conference, the 34-26 Kings rank seventh and hold the third place spot in their won division -- just barely staving off the Los Angeles Lakers. Depending on how much team context matters to this year's voters, that could be Monk's downfall.

Individually, Monk's 15.4 points per game trails only Hardaway Jr.'s empty 16.3 mark among this year's contenders, and his 16.2 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) ranks second-best, as well. But as his fourth-ranked 2.8 Win Shares (WS) point out, the Kings aren't winning like some of these other teams with Sixth Man contenders.

As good as he's been this year, Monk might not be as much of a lock for the award as his best-in-class -260 odds imply.

Norman Powell, Los Angeles Clippers (+650)

Norman Powell could very well become the sixth Sixth Man of the Year Award winner in the last 11 seasons for the Los Angeles Clippers. In conjunction with teammate Russell Westbrook -- whose recent hand injury took him out of the running -- the Clippers have fielded one of the strongest second units in the league.

The strength of the team's depth has helped them vie for the top spot in the West. At 39-21, they rank fourth in the conference and are just three games back from the front. Oddsmakers like their chances of winning the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs, too, as their +230 odds to Win the Western Conference rank second-best.

Powell's individual stats trail the ones Monk has posted so far, but his efforts have helped produce a better team than the Kings. If he can finish the season off strong after Westbrook's injury, he could be positioned to quickly catch up to Monk and pull off the upset for Sixth Man of the Year.

Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers (+900)

Caris LeVert is the last player with odds under +1000 to win the award this season, and he presents an interesting case juxtaposed with Malik Monk.

While LeVert's individual stats mostly trail Monk's across the board (he scores fewer points per game, has a lower PER, and has contributed 0.1 fewer Win Shares), his 40-21 Cleveland Cavaliers are in a better spot than Monk's Kings.

And it's not like LeVert has been a slouch in the box score, either, as his 14.0 points per game ranks second-best in the group (excluding Hardaway Jr.). Defensively speaking, he's been much stronger than Monk, as well. LeVert's 2.0 Defensive Win Shares laps Monk's 166th-ranked 1.1 DWS, he's averaging 1.1 more rebounds per 36 minutes than Monk, and he's averaging almost half a steal more per 36 minutes to boot.

The Cavs, who are third in the Eastern Conference, are just half a game back from the second-place Bucks -- though both teams trail the Boston Celtics by a fair margin. Their odds to Win the Central Division (+110) are neck-and-neck with the Bucks' -165 odds, so we're really talking about one of the best teams in the whole conference backing LeVert's case.

Are Monk's stats really so much more compelling than LeVert's that the odds should tilt so heavily in his favor despite playing for a worse team? I don't think so, and that could make LeVert at his current +900 odds a nice arbitrage bet against Monk as the season nears its end.

Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves (+1200)

Minnesota Timberwolves center Naz Reid is finally getting a little recognition for his contributions on the court. He has seen his odds to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award vault all the way from +8000 at the All-Star break to +1200 (fourth-best). The big man's 12.3 points per game trails the rest of the pack but fails to highlight his significant contributions to the best defense in the league.

While his raw scoring output trails those of his peers, his 3.7 Win Shares lead the group. The Timberwolves are winning games, and he's been a major contributor to their success. And proportionally, he's scoring virtually as many of his team's points per game (11%) as anyone else. Monk's 15.4 points per game account for roughly 13% of the Kings' points per game.

Reid has been hands down the best defender in the group. His 2.8 Defensive Win Shares this season rank 16th league-wide and are miles ahead of LeVert's 56th-ranked 2.0 DWS. It obviously helps that he plays alongside Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner Rudy Gobert (-900), but Reid is absolutely one of the reasons the Wolves are the league's best defense.

Reid's defensive prowess might not be as immediately flashy as Monk's scoring output, but if he continues to play strong defense and efficient offense, he could be the best sleeper bet to win this award.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.