As expected, former Baby Laker Jordan Clarkson has won the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, with his current Utah Jazz teammate (and second-place finisher) Joe Ingles presenting it to him in a sweet moment on Monday night.
First of all, shouts to Jordan, arguably the biggest success story from the Lakers’ tanking era when one considers that the team nabbed him with the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He may have had to go to make room for LeBron James, but we’ll always remember his contributions, most notably his finish to the 2014-15 season, when he gave us something to actually watch and get excited about for a team that didn’t offer much in that department all year.
Plus, his perpetually unfiltered nature made him one of the most lovable players to ever wear the purple and gold.
Jordan Clarkson with some words of endearment for Brandon Ingram’s game-winner: “Sh-t, that mother f-cker was wide open! He better shoot that mother f-cker. If you ain't shoot that sh-t, I might’ve slapped them worms right off your mother f-ckin head.” pic.twitter.com/giTqO9rHkx— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 8, 2017
Kyle Kuzma’s teammates wouldn’t let him start his interview until he put his coat on. Kuzma said later they are just jealous and Jordan Clarkson is the only one who could pull off that coat. pic.twitter.com/TXNNLAMJ4O— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) January 27, 2018
Real Lakers fans will always appreciate a real one like Jordan.
three of those dudes made an all-star team. one has one the most improved player award and one has won the sixth man of the year award. and we might get another mip award this season too. love seeing these guys flourish and reach their potential.— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) May 24, 2021
Congrats to him on proving without a shadow of a doubt that he not only belongs in the league, but can contribute to winning for the team with the best record in the NBA.
But Clarkson and Ingles weren’t the only ones to get some recognition from the NBA media members who vote on these end-of-season awards. Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks finished third, with Dallas Mavericks teammates Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. following him in fourth and fifth, respectively.
After that, last year’s Sixth Man of the Year award winner, Montrezl Harrell, finished in sixth place. The Lakers’ reserve forward got zero first-place votes, three second-place votes and five third-place votes.
You can see the full voting breakdown here:
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has won the 2020-21 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award for his contributions in a reserve role, the NBA announced today.— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 24, 2021
Full voting results below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XseKPioryG
As our own Cooper Halpern pointed out to me in Slack, this makes Harrell the official winner of the inaugural Silver Screen and Roll Sixth Sixth Man of the Year award, presented annually to the sixth-best sixth man in the NBA. Congrats to Harrell, for proving with this finish that he is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most Sixth Man player to ever exist, ready to sacrifice and be the sixth man for a team of the NBA’s best sixth men.
In all seriousness, though, Harrell deserved some recognition for his play this year. I get that he’s polarizing because we all want to log on to the internet every day and fight to the death about the Lakers’ center rotation, but he shot a team-high 62.2% from the field this year, and gave the Lakers 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in 22.9 minutes off the bench (averages that translate to 21.2 and 9.7 per-36 minutes, respectively).
Harrell was especially huge in giving the purple and gold just enough scoring punch to survive their time without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and generally played pretty much exactly the level of basketball that was expected from him when the team brought him in this offseason. He shot 80% from the field in Game 1 against the Suns and finished as the best Lakers big man on the floor after a rough first quarter, and appears to be a solid matchup against Phoenix’s smaller second units in this series. He provides value for this team, even if he also has some severe defensive limitations in certain matchups.
Harrell never really had a shot to repeat as the winner of this award with the way the Lakers’ season went, but good on him for playing through and getting some recognition for it anyway. We’ll see how big his role continues to be as the postseason rolls along, but we shouldn’t forget his contributions in helping this team win enough games to get there during what was truly a cursed regular season.