Portland Trail Blazers: Curious Case of Luke Babbitt's 6th Man of the Year Vote

Alex TamCorrespondent IIIApril 24, 2013

February 10, 2013; Orlando FL, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Luke Babbitt (8) talks with head coach Terry Stotts against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year voting came out on Monday, there wasn't too much of a surprise that the New York Knicks' J.R. Smith came out the winner.

Scroll down the voting list, however, and one player earned some national recognition—not for the fact that he didn't receive enough votes, but that he got a vote at all. Portland Trail Blazers forward Luke Babbitt shockingly earned one third-place vote for Sixth Man of the Year.

According to NBA.com, the other players who earned one third-place vote included Utah's Gordon Hayward, Dallas' Vince Carter and Milwaukee's J.J. Redick—all of whom are clearly better players than Babbitt.

Babbitt, the 16h overall pick of the 2010 draft, averaged mediocre numbers of 3.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game this season in 62 games. He accumulated several DNP-CDs, falling in and out of the rotation under coach Terry Stotts.

The third-year player out of Nevada has become known as a one-dimensional player. With his feet set, Babbitt was one of the team's best long-range shooters. However, his struggles to create his own shot and defend made him a liability most of the time.

On the Blazers, he ranked ninth in scoring, ninth in rebounding, 13th in assists, 12th in minutes and 12th in field-goal percentage. He was, however, fourth on the Blazers in 3-pointers made (62) behind Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.

Twitter immediately reacted to find out who the one voter was.

The first culprit was Blazers TV color analyst Mike Rice, whose eccentric personality would fit this situation. However, he denied it on Twitter, claiming he voted for Jarrett Jack, Smith, Ryan Anderson and Jamal Crawford.

Next up to ask was The Oregonian beat writer Joe Freeman, who also denied it since he didn't even have a vote.

Could it be another beat writer, possibly CSNNW's Chris Haynes? Apparently not after he revealed his NBA awards ballot on CSNNW.com that included the Clippers' Jamal Crawford first, followed Smith and the Warriors' Carl Landry.

So was it a mistake? Blazers Edge blogger Ben Golliver got a response from a league spokesman.

Twitter reactions continued from various media outlets with a heavy dose of sarcasm, along with downright astonishment.

Golliver cited Babbitt's incredible numbers from the season.

NBA.com's John Schuhmann provided some perspective compared to the players league-wide.

SI.com's Chris Mannix provided an update on Babbitt's contention for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award.

So could it be a beat writer from an opposing team? Babbitt didn't have many standout games this season, so it's not easy to pinpoint one team he excelled against. His best game was likely a 9-point and 5-rebound effort in a comeback victory over the Bobcats on Dec. 3.

He scored a season-high 14 points against the Nuggets in December. Babbitt also averaged 10 points per game against the Bucks in two losses—his best scoring average against a single team.

With it seemingly unlikely that the voter will come forward, what's now next for Babbitt?

Babbitt will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after the Blazers declined to pick up his $2.9 million team option (via Mike Tokito of The Oregonian). Portland also declined team options for next season to Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams to help create between $11.8 to $13 million in cap space.

Babbitt will likely not be re-signed by the Blazers, but at least he didn't go out quietly.