It's time for "Camp questions", Volume 5. Today we're talking about the polarizing Jordan Crawford, who many Celtics fans want on the next flight out of Boston.
About Jordan Crawford:
In college, Crawford dunked on LeBron during LBJ's basketball skills academy. Unfortunately that has been the highlight of his career thus far. Crawford, who attended Xavier, was drafted 27th overall by the Nets in 2010 before a draft night trade sent him to Atlanta. Halfway through his rookie season he was dealt again, this time to the Wizards. Crawford spent parts of three season in Washington, peaking during the 2011-12 season when he averaged 14.7 PPG, 3 APG and 2.6 RPG for the Wizards. Last season Crawford was dealt to the Celtics for an injured Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins. Washington simply wanted expiring contracts in exchange for Crawford, something that should have been a distinct red flag at the time.
Crawford is under contract for $2.16 million this year. He will be a restricted free agent next summer.
1. Is Crawford really as terrible as people make him out to be?
When Crawford was first acquired by the Celtics last season, there was a brief time when people were excited. After all, the Cs had just picked up a career 12.7 PPG player for an injured guy and Jason Collins. What's not to love about that? But then Crawford started playing, and forcing awful shots, and things changed. By the time this summer hit a lot of fans and writers alike were pleading with Danny Ainge to dump Crawford in a salary dump that would have allowed the team to keep a fairly fungible guy like Shavlik Randolph. Crawford's play in just 32 games with the Celtics has turned fans off enough where they simply want him gone.
The question is: is that reaction warranted?
The short answer: yea, it kind of is.
Crawford's the epitome of a volume scorer. Sure, he'll get you points. But at what cost? It took him 13.6 shots per game in 2011-12 (his best season) to average 14.7 PPG. For his career he's averaged 12.7 PPG while hoisting 11.9 shots per game. At some point the scoring isn't worth it in exchange for the countless empty possessions. That inefficiency is further driven home when looking at his shooting percentages. Career from the field: 40.2%; Career from three: 30.1%. Compare that to league average (NBA guards shoot 45% from the field, 36% from three) and you can see why Crawford's reputation is well earned.
2. Despite all of his inefficiencies, is Crawford the 2nd best point guard on this team?
Somehow, I think he just might be. Obviously Rajon Rondo is the best point guard on this roster, that is not a debate. But who's the 2nd best (and possibly the starter until Rondo is healthy enough to return)? We talked about Phil Pressey, a natural point guard but one who has major inefficiency questions of his own, here. But if Brad Stevens decides not to hand the car keys to an undrafted rookie, he really has four options: Crawford, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee or MarShon Brooks. Let's take a look at how each of these guys has fared at point guard duties in their NBA career.
Note: Assist % = % of the teams field goals a player assists on while he's on the floor; Turnover % = how many turnovers the player commits per 100 plays that run through him.
Crawford: Career 4.3 assists per-36 minutes, 21% assist percentage, 13.7% turnover percentage
Bradley: Career 2.5 assists per-36 minutes, 11.3% assist percentage, 13.9% turnover percentage
Lee: Career 2.0 assists per-36 minutes, 9% assist percentage, 11% turnover percentage
Brooks: Career 2.9 assists per-36 minutes, 14.6% assist percentage, 14.7% turnover percentage
(Note: Just for fun, Rondo in his career: 9.1 assists per-36 minutes, 40.9% assist percentage, 20.4 turnover percentage. I miss Rondo.)
Two things become pretty clear after looking at these stats.
- Crawford is no Rondo.
- Crawford is a significantly better creator than the other options available.
Of course the question then becomes: can Crawford curb his desire to isolate and hoist a terrible 20 footer every possession and instead focus in on running an offense, which the stats say he's halfway decent at? I'd imagine that Stevens is going to spend a decent amount of time during training camp trying to figure that out.
3. If someone offers to take Crawford off the Celtics hands, will Danny Ainge oblige?
Let's just get this straight: Jordan Crawford is not being traded for value. Last season he was dealt for nothing, and if the Celtics trade him it will strictly be a salary dump. Either a team below the cap or one with a trade exception who's willing to take Crawford's $2.1 million salary off the Celtics hands.
Knowing they would receive no real value for Crawford, would that deal be worth it for the Celtics?
Personally I think it's a tough call. After all, Crawford's deal expires this summer, so there is no long term cap relief. The Celtics have also recently snuck below the luxury tax line, so keeping Crawford does not cost them anything there. Therefore it might actually make more sense to hold on to Crawford and see if Stevens can help make him a more efficient player. There is clearly skill inside of Crawford. He's a guy who's major fallback is decision making, something that a new set of coaches may be able to help with. And if not, what do the Celtics lose? Nothing.
So if a team offers to take Crawford, I think I say no right now. If he was 30-years-old I would probably feel differently, but he's only 25. He's also already played for four coaches and three teams in his three year career. That's a lot of different voices telling you what to do in a short period of time (Crawford also played for two different teams/coaches in his two year college career). So while he certainly has his warts, let's see what the Celtics staff can do with him before we throw him in the trash.
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Michael Dyer 9/19/2013 01:22:00 PM Tweet