Marshall may get 6th-man nod

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

The Raptors may not make the playoffs, but the team could win a consolation prize of sorts.

Forward Donyell Marshall is gaining more and more consideration for the NBA's Sixth Man Award, which is selected by writers and broadcasters covering the league.

While Chicago Bulls rookie Ben Gordon and Boston Celtics guard Ricky Davis are considered the front-runners, Marshall's play through the past 18 games -- averaging over 16 points and almost eight rebounds -- has put the Reading, Pa., native right in the mix.

"He's as viable as any candidate out there," teammate Jalen Rose said, prior to Saturday's game in Atlanta. "I think a lot of times when they poll those awards, they end up going to a guy that has the same numbers, but played on a better team. But he's definitely in consideration and deservedly so."

Marshall, in fact, could come up the middle and win, particularly if the writers and broadcasters pick Gordon as the rookie of the year. The young guard is averaging 14.9 points in 24 minutes a game.

Davis has great numbers, 15.6 points per game, but he is also getting a whopping 32.7 minutes every night off the bench and that might not play in his favour when the ballots are counted.

Also in Marshall's favour is that he is a double threat, averaging 11.8 points per game, and pulling in 6.6 boards every night in 25.4 minutes off the bench, although a sore back limited him to four minutes in Toronto's 109-104 victory in Atlanta on Saturday. If he can stay healthy and remain on the roll that he is on, Marshall could become the Raptors' first major-award winner since Vince Carter won rookie honours in 1999.

"These last (13) games could be key for him," Rose added. "He could probably make a run and win that award. That would be a good thing for our team because the thing about this league, the respect that you seek, whether it's from officials or from the public, happens a lot of times, unfortunately, through the hype. And when you get an award like that, it creates a certain type of hype."

Last season, the Sixth Man Award went to Antawn Jamison of the Dallas Mavericks, who averaged 14.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds.

The Raptors franchise has been the recipient of two major individual awards. Both Carter (1998-99) and Damon Stoudamire (1995-96) won rookie-of-the-year honours.

Other candidates for the Sixth Man Award this season include Jerry Stackhouse of Dallas (15.6 ppg and 3.6 rebounds) and Vladimir Radmanovic of Seattle (11.8 ppg, 4.6 rebounds).

The 29-40 Raptors continue a five-game trip in Miami tomorrow night, followed by games in Orlando on Wednesday and Charlotte on Friday.


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