1. Tim Hardaway Jr.
After starting 45 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season, Tim Hardaway Jr. is now primarily coming off the bench again. Averaging 17.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists, he is one of the best bench scorers in the league this season.
The Mavericks are not quite as good as they would probably want to be, as they are currently in the PlayIn picture rather than the playoffs. Without Hardaway Jr., they might be doing even worse, though.
Kyrie Irving has only played 28 games this season, meaning that the Mavericks have been missing around 25 points per game for a large part of the season, and Luka Doncic has been carrying a gigantic usage rate.
Hardaway Jr. is the third-leading scorer on the team behind Doncic and Irving and the only one who could possibly help Doncic make up for Irving’s production sitting on the bench. Derrick Jones Jr. is the only other Mavericks player averaging double-digits, meaning that there is not much help coming from the rest of the supporting cast.
Just this year, Hardaway Jr. has recorded three games with at least 30 points, including a 41-point performance in a 125-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Scoring-wise, he is the most productive bench player out of this group, and most betting sites have him as the current favorite to win the award. Of course, this doesn’t mean that no one else has a chance, but Hardaway Jr. has a solid case.