Upon presenting their annual awards at the end of each campaign, the NBA D-League fails to recognize a "Sixth Man of the Year," with a designated honor. One could argue that those prospects coming off a minor league bench aren't as close to breaking into The Association, but the irony here is that a very strong argument could be made to the contrary.
When the D-League's top up and coming prospects finally ascend up and go on to hit the NBA hardwood, they'll likely be doing so while coming off the bench. They're expected to make an unique impact and provide a boost as part of the second unit. It's in the NBA's minor league where such athletes identify their respective niches and come to understand what it is they can provide NBA teams in the relatively near future.
As such, players who come off the bench for D-League teams arguably give an even better glimpse of the type of player they can be at the next level, simply because they're already playing a similar role. The most successful players in such roles should be recognized. With that in mind, we here at RidiculousUpside.com have you covered.
It just so happens that this season's best reserve provided one the league's best teams with a quality boost on a nightly basis. One could even argue that Nick Minnerath's contributions alone were a big factor in the Canton Charge's successful 31-19 campaign. Was he their best player this season? One could even make that argument relatively easily as well.
But alas, Minnerath came off the bench in all but ten of his 49 appearances. He scored 20 or more points on nineteen different occasions, and poured in 30 or more four times. All season long, Minnerath proved to be quite the scoring machine. Still, he's far more than your average one-dimensional player.
Though he can make it rain from long range much like fellow D-League alum Steve Novak, Minnerath's physicality, assertiveness, toughness, and rebounding ability all rival that of Chris Andersen's. Combine the the special attributes from each player, roll them into one athletic and imposing specimen, and out comes out an ever unique product named Nick Minnerath.
At 26 years old, Minnerath spent the previous two seasons overseas before proving his worth with Canton. But now that he's done so, an NBA future isn't completely out of the question.
But for his efforts most recently, Minnerath has clearly done enough to earn himself RidiculousUpside.com's first annual Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2015-16 NBADL campaign. He averaged 18.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and shot 51% from the field, 40% from deep, and 89% from the charity stripe. That's ever so close to the oh so coveted 50/40/90 mark; a job well done.
Runner-up for RU's Sixth Man award: David Laury, who averaged 10.6 points and 7.8 boards in 44 appearances (just fifteen starters) for the Delaware 87ers.
Last year's winner: N/A