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LeBron James says Dwyane Wade is the early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year

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James advocated for his teammate and friend

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

According to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade should be considered the leader for Sixth Man of the Year so far this season.

“He’s probably the No. 1 candidate,” James said at shootaround prior to Saturday’s Cavs-Grizzlies game.

“Not even being biased, that's one of my best friends,” he continued. “Just looking at the teams. Eric Gordon has had to start a lot this season because CP (Chris Paul) was out. [Andre] Iguodala's been out a little bit, you look at Manu [Ginobili], you look at Jamal Crawford ... those are sixth man guys, right? D-Wade would probably be leading that right now, but there's a long way to go.”

James also explained his criteria for the award.

“Team success is always up there with winning an award, that's just my personal opinion,” he said. “Then the impact you make on that second lineup, or whatever lineup that you're in. You have a lot of winners and you've seen why they've won. When J.R. [Smith] won it when he was in New York, Jamal Crawford and Eric Gordon, seeing the things that they did coming off the bench and doing the things they've done off the bench to help their team be successful.”

Wade has been the leader of some effective Cavs bench units this year as coach Tyronn Lue has handed him control over the bench. So far this year, Wade is averaging 12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and four assists per game. Over the Cavs’ current 10-game winning streak, he’s averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and four assists per game.

If Wade stays on the bench for the entire season, and continues to play how he has, perhaps LeBron will be proven right.