Sixth Man Award: Taj Gibson, Bulls
Trivia question: Who leads the league in fourth-quarter minutes?
Answer: Chicago's Taj Gibson.
The unforeseen emergence of Gibson as a dependable late-game option offensively, on top of his established mobility and versatility on D, hasn't just rendered former All-Star Carlos Boozer surplus to requirements for Tom Thibodeau.
It's a surprise development that should also enable Gibson to prevail here in the Sixth Man Award race despite being faced with the usual crowded field co-headlined by the affable (and forever flammable) Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio's legendary sixth man Manu Ginobili.
Phoenix's unfairly overlooked Markieff Morris and Dallas' venerable Vince Carter are two more worthy names that deserve more pub than they're getting. Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson's is in the mix, too.
But Gibson's impact at both ends puts him narrowly ahead of Crawford (who ranks among the league's top five in fourth-quarter scoring despite being derailed late in the season by a strained calf) and Ginobili (who's been getting some bench help of his own from Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills) ... though it must be noted that D.J. Augustin has given Chicago two eye-catchers off the bench.
Stein's ballot: 1. Taj Gibson; 2. Jamal Crawford; 3. Manu Ginobili
October prediction: Klay Thompson