Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Can one of the NBA's most unpredictable players finally learn to reign in his bad habits?
Jordan Crawford is a scorer. Period. It doesn't matter how much time is on the shot clock, what the score is, who's guarding him, or where he is, when Crawford decides he wants to get buckets, shots start going up. While this aggressiveness is admirable in principle, his tendency to break up the flow of the Wizards' offense and take low-percentage shots means that far too few of these shots go in. Crawford's point totals are nice, but Washington would probably score more as a team if other players were taking some of those shots, especially with more shot creators now that Bradley Beal, Nene, and an improved Kevin Seraphin are in the fold.
Crawford has some nice skills, but low percentage shot creators rarely play key roles on good teams. Players who make open shots are a lot more valuable to good teams than ones who create a lot of contested shots, and whether or not he can become more efficient will make or break his season.
Offense: Let's start with the good - Crawford is ready, willing and able to get a shot off almost any time he feels like it, especially when he's playing against second units. His usage rate was one of the NBA's highest last year, with his game primarily consisting of long two-point jumpers off of the dribble. These are the least efficient shots in basketball, but players who can make them at a good clip - Jason Terry and Ben Gordon are the best examples - can be extremely valuable to a team's second unit, especially come playoff time when a higher level of defensive intensity and ability can force players into more long two pointers. Crawford is good at these shots (41% shooting from mid-range, with almost 70% of these shots coming off the dribble as per NBA.com/stats) and should continue to make them at a decent clip this year. Perhaps more importantly, his ability to make long two pointers is a good sign that he'll become a decent three-point shooter, something that would really help the Wizards' spacing as well as his own efficiency.
As for the bad, there's quite a bit, and it's all tied to one thing - efficiency. Crawford doesn't draw a lot of fouls, even for a jump shooter, so he misses out on a lot of easy points at the line. While he's a decent playmaker, he's also fairly turnover prone. But what kills his efficiency more than anything else is his non-corner three point shooting. Crawford's overall three point percentage was a very poor 29% last year, but even that number is a bit misleading - he shot well from the corners but was terrible from above the break, especially without John Wall on the court, and from the right side of the floor in particular. The one silver lining here is that if he became a league average player on these shots or even just stopped taking them, he would become efficient enough to carve out a role as a solid sixth man this year, especially when playing next to Wall.
Defense: At 6'4 without particularly noteworthy athleticism, Crawford will likely never be a plus defensive player, but last season was just ridiculous. Washington's defense was 9 points per 100 possessions better with Crawford on the bench according to 82games.com and MySynergySports ranked him as the league's 302nd best defender. Crawford was routinely beaten in isolation situations (256th in the league last year) and tends to gamble for steals, allowing his man to get open shots. Crawford will likely be better this year due to improvements in the players around him as well as his own continued development, but without an intense effort on his part, he's very likely to remain a defensive liability.
Outlook: The upcoming season could be make or break for Crawford. He has some skills, but inefficient volume shooters who don't defend very well are a dime a dozen and rarely contribute much to good teams. Washington could use his scoring, but perhaps more importantly from his perspective, he's two years away from the end of his rookie deal, so his asking price in free agency will be closely related to his improvements over the next two years. He should be better, and it's only a matter of time until his three point shooting begins to more closely reflect his inside the arc jumper. The drafting of Beal will mean less playing time for Crawford, especially at his natural position at the 2, but how drastically his minutes are cut is going to depend on whether he can adjust to his new role.
Best Case Scenario: Gets his three point percentage into the mid-30s, keys in on the defensive end, and blossoms into a viable sixth man and back up shooting guard.
Statistics, Per 36 Minutes
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