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Members of the Los Angeles Clippers have won the NBA’s Sixth Man award in four of the past six seasons. If it happens again this season, the payoff will be massive.

Nobody on the Clippers is listed with odds shorter than +4000 by Betway, with last year’s winner, Jordan Clarkson, again having the shortest odds at +500.

What is going to make this year’s Sixth Man award voting unpredictable is the status of Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. If he continues to refuse to get vaccinated, will Patty Mills take his place as a starter? Or will it instead be Bruce Brown, which would give a boost to the candidacy of Patty Mills.

With a week left before the start of the regular season, Mills is the +1400 fourth choice to win the award given annually to the NBA’s best bench player. Clarkson and teammate Joe Ingles garnered 99 of a possible 100 first-place votes last season, with Derrick Rose of the Knicks getting the fan vote. Rose also is currently on the board at enticing odds of +1800, with Clarkson the only player listed at less than 10-1.

Like the Most Improved Player Award, this is a market that gamblers should be looking extra hard at because the chance for a nifty payoff is so much greater. Clarkson is certain to be among the contenders, and the same goes for Ingles, Rose and Mills. All four players will be a part of playoff-bound teams, which usually makes a difference in this category.

But below them are a bunch of players whose chances could be bolstered by an increase in playing time on a team with heightened chances of success following off-season moves. Those players include Dennis Schroder of the Celtics (+2000), Alex Caruso of the Chicago Bulls (+3000), Carmelo Anthony of the Lakers (+3000), Thaddeus Young of the Spurs (+5500) and Dwight Howard of the Lakers (+10000).

Young’s team may not be all that competitive, but more on his later. At +5500, he is super-worthy of consideration.

But first, let’s take a look at the field and try to identify the value:

Clarkson, Jazz (+500), and Ingles, Jazz (+1200):  Clarkson captured 65 of 100 first-place votes last season as the Jazz finished with the best record in the West, and the only question for much of the season was whether Ingles, his teammate, was a better candidate. Both were volume scorers off the bench, with Clarkson more of a facilitator because he is a point guard; Ingles more of a 3 and D guy renowned for his toughness.

Both will be in the running again this season for a Jazz team that did little in the offseason aside from signing backup center Hassan Whiteside, and the No. 1 factor will be productivity, followed by won-loss record. Because if the Jazz slip, voters will have an excuse to turn their attention elsewhere. Having been a voter for more than a decade, I can tell you that by thinking like a voter you will increase your chances of getting paid. And voters do not like to cast ballots for the same guy they voted for a year earlier.

Kevin Huerter, Hawks (+1200): The big redhead started 49 of 69 games a season ago because Bogdan Bogdanovic was sidelined for a significant amount of time, and in the preseason he has been a starter in two of the three games he has played. Huerter has started more than three-quarters of the NBA games he has appeared in over three seasons, providing a steady infusion of 3-point shooting, rebounds, assists and steals.

But in order for him to win this particular ward he is going to distinguish himself in a way that he has never done in his first three seasons, and no, the red hair does not count. It says here these odds are too low. This guy should probably he in the +4000 range.

Mills, Nets (+1400): The alpha dog for the Australian National Team over the summer at the Tokyo Olympics, Mills showed anyone who was watching that he can be a featured scorer if that is what his team needs him to do. He was never asked to do so in Portland or San Antonio, but this year is a whole different animal as the Nets now find themselves in need of a vaccinated player who can replicate what Irving was expected to give them.

Mills has started only 57 of 739 career NBA regular-season games, scoring a career-high 11.6 points two years ago. If the Nets lean on him extra heavily, he should set a new career-high in point despite being 33 years old, and if the Nets can overcome Irving’s absence to win the East, this guy’s candidacy figures to be strong. It is merely a matter of whether Steve Nash starts him or not.

Goran Dragic, Raptors (+1500): Even Dragic himself is probably surprised that he is with Toronto so soon before the start of the season. He was expecting to get re-traded after being dealt to the Raptors as part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. The second-best player ever to come out of Slovenia gives the Raptors an abundance of riches at point guard, where they also have Fred VanVleet.

Should he stick around and come off the bench, perhaps the only thing that would win him this award is getting Toronto into the Top 6 in the East. But until the Ben Simmons situation shakes out (Toronto is a possible destination for the disgruntled Philly guard), there is no good reason to put good money on a player who may end up being a starter for most of the season. In the preseason, Dragic has played twice, starting alongside VanVleet once.

Tyrese Haliburton, Kings (+1500): He was making some noise for Rookie of the Year last season and ended up finishing third behind LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards. He will remain a bench player for as long as De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are teaming up in the Kings’ backcourt, and playing in the small market for a below-average team is not going to help him. He would need to show dramatic improvement from his rookie averages of 13.0 points and 5.3 assists.

Coby White, Bulls (+1600): With Lonzo Ball now the starter at point guard, White would have to make quite an impression off the bench to be in consideration for this award after two unspectacular seasons. White averaged 15.1 points last season but shot below 42 percent, so a sizable uptick in shooting percentage is the first thing to look for. But the Bulls also have Javonte Green and Alex Caruso looking to take some of the point guard minutes, and it would not be a shocker to see the No. 7 overall pick from the 2018 draft end up playing elsewhere before season’s end.

The only other player with odds below +2000 who has a shot at this award, it says here, is Rose of the New York Knicks (+1500), who recently proposed to his longtime girlfriend on the court at Madison Square Garden. Rose is an all-time Tom Thibodeau favorite whose fortunes hinge on whether the Knicks get on pace to win 50 or more games. That would be discernable improvement, and voters like that.

At +2000 is Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat, who is fifth in the NBA in scoring this preseason. Just as was the case two years ago, the Heat are going to be sneaky good, and Herro has been as steady as they come for Erik Spoelstra over his first two seasons. If he can raise his scoring average from 15.1 to something in the 20s, he will be squarely in the mix. He is worth a flyer at this price.

The same goes for Chris Boucher of the Raptors (+3000), Bruce Brown of the Nets (+5000 with the Irving factor looming large), Young of the Spurs at +5500 (if Gregg Popovich can get this Spurs team to the playoffs, somebody will get rewarded), and Kelly Olynyk of Detroit (+6000), whose numbers after getting traded from Miami to Houston midway through last season were sensational.

And again, keep in mind that this is one of the futures market where the sportsbooks list an early-season leader after about 10 games and then tend to leave that player there whether he remains deserving or not. Like we told you in handicapping Most Improved, this is an edge that does not belong to the house, it belongs to the gambler. So be diligent in following this one.