Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford is the winner of the NBAs 2015-16 Sixth Man award, the league announced Tuesday. The veteran guard topped Golden State's Andre Iguodala, Oklahoma City' Enes Kanter and 16 others receiving votes to become the first player in league history to win the award three times.
The 19 players to garner at least one vote represented 16 different teams. Nobody from the Washington Wizards made the list.
That's not to suggest there was a massive oversight by the voters or that the lack of a viable sixth man for award consideration is further proof of a wasted season. The suggestion is that this element is something for the Wizards to strongly consider when they start spending money this summer.
Crawford and Kanter are offensive forces capable of carrying a team for stretches. Igoadala's two-way approach alters games on both ends of the court. Washington had helpful pieces, but none with such impact.
The lack of votes for any Wizard also serves as a reminder that, especially before the All-Star break, the relentless run of injuries prevented Washington from having any truly defined rotations.
The Wizards led the NBA in games missed due to injury for much of the season. Some will say this note is overblown because many of those missed games were not by the true stars on the team. There's some truth there, but it wasn't until February or March that players not named John Wall and Marcin Gortat knew what their roles would be on a regular basis or sometimes in back-to-back games. Considering the shift in schemes this season, there is also plenty of truth in suggesting the lack of a steady rotation hurt the adjustment.
Ramon Sessions probably filled the sixth man role above all. Truth is for the most of the season, the backup point guard was Washington's most consistent player and that goes beyond the fact that he was the only Wizard to play in all 82 games this season. Sessions didn't just serve as John Wall's primary backup, but often played alongside Wall especially when Bradley Beal missed games. Even when the overall offense struggled at times, Sessions' driving ability always gave the Wizards a bailout plan.
However, the limitations in his game are why the "sixth man" role isn't really for him. Despite his point guard label, Washington's assist percentage was lower with Sessions on the court than any other Wizard to appear in over 40 games this season. His defensive presence lacked punch. If the free agent returns, the Wizards must add a true facilitator on the second unit to counter Sessions' shoot-first approach and perhaps a defensive gnat capable of slowing down quick guards.
Garrett Temple once again exceeded production and minutes expectations after the Wizards added other guard options last summer. Showing far more confidence in his offensive game to go with his quality defense, the lengthy Temple showed he belongs in an NBA rotation. But sixth man, no.
Jared Dudley might have been the ideal candidate, but the Wizards needed him to start far more often than all involved imagined. Shifted to the bench soon after the trade for Markieff Morris, Dudley lost his perimeter touch playing with a second unit that ran far less pick-and-roll sets than the starters.
Nene's power and passing makes him the ideal sixth man option. His game-to-game uncertainty because of injuries and desire do not.
Assuming restricted free agent Bradley Beal stays, the Wizards will have their starting lineup back plus rising second-year forward Kelly Oubre. Wish for enough improvement so Oubre plays more than he did as a rookie, but don't expect him as the team's sixth-man, a role often filled by offensive forces or defensive game-changers. There's a good bet that role next season is filled by someone who didn't play for the Wizards this season.