LOS ANGELES (AP) Clippers guard Jamal Crawford will be named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the second time in his career, a league official with knowledge of the award said.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the league hasn’t announced the award.
Crawford was the Clippers’ third-leading scorer and the NBA’s top-scoring reserve with 18.6 points per game. He added 3.2 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game for the two-time Pacific Division champions.
”He’s deserving of it,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”I don’t know that there’s a more lethal weapon in the league that you could bring off the bench.”
While starting just 24 of his 69 games this season, the shifty veteran guard had his highest scoring average since the 2009-10 season with Atlanta, where he won his first Sixth Man award.
Crawford is the Clippers’ top perimeter threat, setting a franchise record with 161 3-pointers while making at least one 3-pointer in 63 games. The 6-foot-5 guard also finished ninth in the NBA by making 86.6 percent of his free throws.
Rivers believes Crawford will win the award for his all-around game, not just his shooting acumen.
”He’s done this in the past, over the past couple years, where he’s been so good offensively,” Rivers said. ”But I actually think he won it because I think voters saw him doing other things for the team – playing defense, running the team at the point guard position when Chris Paul was out at times. He’s been the perfect utility player for a team. He’s been awesome.”
The 34-year-old Crawford has spent 14 NBA seasons with six teams, including lengthy stints with the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks.
Although he once scored 52 points in a game and averaged more than 20 points per game during a season in New York, Crawford has carved out a career as a dependable rotation member with the Clippers for the last two years, delivering steady bench scoring and veteran leadership.
Crawford likely would have received the award Tuesday night before the Clippers’ fifth playoff game against the Golden State Warriors, but the trouble surrounding Clippers owner Donald Sterling prevented it.
Los Angeles leads the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night. The Clippers are one win away from just their third playoff series victory in 33 years.
Crawford is the fourth player to win the Sixth Man award twice in his career, joining Kevin McHale, Ricky Pierce and Detlef Schrempf. Crawford is the first to win it with two different teams.