Since the 1983 season, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award has been given to the best player who comes off the bench to significantly help his team. Though the award is a huge accolade, players still tend to think of coming off the bench as a negative.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon is here to change the conventional opinion of bench players. In a recent Players' Tribune article, he talks about how he was moved to the sixth man role by Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni. Gordon had never come off the bench before, but he embraced his new role.
"Bringing one of your best players off the bench can help your team build a lead or erase a deficit against a weaker second unit.
"And I've come to really appreciate what it takes to be a great sixth man. Starting the game on the bench gives me the chance to really read the game, and to plan accordingly.
"OK, the Clippers are trying to take away the rim tonight. Gotta be ready to shoot.
"Hold up, the refs called that foul on Clint? Well, at least I know I can be aggressive going to the rim.
"Once I take into account everything that I learned from watching the game develop whether the refs are letting things go, or if the defense is loading up on shooters—I know exactly what my approach will be when I get on the floor."
This is a good lesson for players at all levels of basketball. Just because you start the game on the bench doesn't mean you can't play an important role for your team. Watch how the flow of the game develops and adjust how you play when you get in.
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Gordon did exactly that and it worked great for him this season. Though the 28-year-old only started 15 games, he had his best year since the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot-4 215-pound shooting guard averaged 16.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Gordon is one of the favorites to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award this season. So remember, the next time a coach wants you to come off the bench, be prepared and don't take it as a bad thing.
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