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Vote: Is Jeremy Lin the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year?

Jeremy Lin’s career was drowning at this time last season. A random castoff playing for the hopeless Los Angeles Lakers, Lin wasn’t able to impact games like he once did. Los Angeles’ system didn’t suit his skill-set, and he really struggled to fit in.

What a difference a year makes. Now Lin is thriving as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Charlotte Hornets. Here’s why, according to CBS Sports:

Leading Charlotte’s second unit, Lin is roughly averaging the same numbers he did last season, 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists, but he has been playing a more consistent role for the Hornets which allows him to play with more confidence. Using his combo-guard skills, Lin attacks the basket, sets up teammates for threes and is the primary ball handler for the Hornets off the bench. Lin not only runs Charlotte’s second unit but since he plays wells with Kemba Walker, he also closes out games.

The Hornets have their lowest point differential with Lin on the bench, and they outscore opponents by a sizable 8.4 points per 100 possessions when he plays. That’s major.

His PER and usage rate are the highest they’ve been since he was on the New York Knicks, and he’s never taken better control of the ball. Lin isn’t a star, but the Hornets don’t need him to be. All they need is a useful role player who attacks off the bench. That he can do.

Lin’s value in Charlotte’s system is humongous. He gives them the aggressive, creative ball-handler they badly need to command their second unit and create opportunities for guys like Frank Kaminsky, Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb.

The on/off splits are slightly disingenuous due to the fact that Lin spends a bunch of his time against opposing bench players, but discounting his impact would be a mistake, particularly since the Hornets have the NBA’s fifth best offense and fifth highest assist-to-turnover ratio.

Lin’s shot isn’t falling on a consistent basis, and that hampers Charlotte’s spacing, but he’s still capable of making up for it with the occassional dose of Linsanity.

The 27-year-old scored 35 points in a big 10-point win over the Toronto Raptors on December 17, and followed that up with a 15-point, seven-assist, six-rebound effort against John Wall and the Washington Wizards.

The Sixth Man race is wide open right now. Andre Iguodala is doing miraculous things for the miraculous Golden State Warriors; Will Barton is a shining light in Denver; and Ryan Anderson continues to open up the floor whenever Alvin Gentry plugs him in beside Anthony Davis.

Lin’s name definitely belongs in their company, and him actually winning the award would make for a fantastic story.

vote here: Is Jeremy Lin the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year? | FOX Sports.