Handing the Sixth Man of the Year award to Jamal Crawoford for the third time in his career suggests the people voting for it haven’t been watching a lot of basketball this season. I’m not sure Jeremy Lin did enough to win it, but it probably should have gone to someone else.
Under normal circumstances, which means a coach that plays him according to ability and previous performances, I think Lin would have been the favorite to win the award. He finished 7th. But that’s all hypothetical wisdom. We can write all we want about how important Lin really is to the Hornets and what he can do in the right role, but the award isn’t given for only the finest performances in specific games or what a player can do on the right team or playing for the right coach.
Crawford, who sometimes does more harm than good to the Clippers due to his narrow contribution and zero attempt at helping on defense, finished only 61st among players who started 40 games or less and played 65 games or more this season. He was sixth in scoring, declining from last season. Crawford declining and playing worse than he did in previous seasons for the Clippers, when he was more deserving of the award (and won it) shouldn’t be a factor in the voting process. Bottom line? Someone else should have gotten it. PER, win shares, scoring. Crawford isn’t close to the top in any of these. More than anything, it feels like a lazy pick and not trying too hard to think about who actually deserves it.
And in connection to more current events, Lin shouldn’t be on the bench when the Hornets play the Miami Heat in game 2 of their first round payoff series. I doublt Clifford doesn’t make any adjustments at all. I also doubt he suddenly changed his mind about Kemba Walker being the way to win the next game and this series. The punch to the gut the Hornets received against the Heat, exposing almost every flaw they have as a team and in this specific matchup, especially with their current lineup, might not have been enough.
Lin didn’t have a great game, but not a bad one either. The Hornets actually played defense during his minutes, especially when Walker wasn’t on the floor. In the few times he did have the ball, he drove to the basket or tried to get some ball movement going, something the Hornets did especially bad in the loss. The problem is I have a hunch Clifford thinks it was simply a matter of effort and execution that caused the Hornets to look this bad, instead of his team being completely unprepared to what they should have known was coming, while the bench offered them zero answers as the game quickly turned into a humiliating blowout.
Starting Lin, or at least devising a game plan that better suits his talents instead of the one thing Walker knows how to do, is a step in the right direction for the Hornets. It mght not be enough to win this series, but it’ll at least make it competitive, which right now it’s the complete opposite of.