For the Boston Celtics, two of the most consistent narratives throughout the offseason have been improvement and development.
Various Celtics players have preached about wanting to focus on evolving their games, from shooting strokes to defense, rebounding to vegetable consumption.
For better or for worse, perhaps no current player on the roster, outside of Marcus Smart, has been the subject of the word development more than Jae Crowder.
Since coming to Boston from Dallas in the Rajon Rondo trade, Crowder has gone from a player averaging 10.6 minutes per game to a two-way threat receiving NBA All-Defensive team votes. Hell, even the great Phil Jackson regrets not trading for him when he got the chance.
Last season, the swingman averaged a career high 14.2 points per game but experienced a drop off in the playoffs to 9.5 point per game. Crowder was admittedly limited by an ankle injury he sustained against the Houston Rockets on March 11 and never truly regained his form.
But now after an offseason of recovery and his ankle no longer an issue, Crowder is putting more time into developing his play, specifically his shooting off the dribble.#Celtics Jae Crowder admitted ankle injury played role in his lagging shooting % at end of last year, retreated that he's healthy now.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) September 28, 2016
Via Jay King of Mass Live, Crowder said:
"[I'm] way more comfortable off the dribble, shooting the ball off the dribble, making a play off the dribble," he said. "Of course with Isaiah (Thomas) who's going to draw a lot of attention and Al's going to draw a lot of attention, I should have a lot of shots on the court where it's just me stepping into a shot and making it. So I'm just trying to work on those shots. And of course like I said, I just feel more comfortable off the dribble, making a shot, making a pull-up, or if it be just coming off the pick, stepping back and shooting a three."
Before his injury, Jae Crowder shot 43 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc. His field goal percentage was slightly below league average while his three-point percentage was above average, but nevertheless both were respectable numbers.
Becoming a more efficient shooter would force defenders to pay more attention to Crowder, subsequently creating more quality shots on assists for Isaiah Thomas and newcomer, Al Horford. At the same time, having those two players alongside him will also create more shooting opportunities.
With his defensive tenacity, leadership qualities and persistence to improve, Jae Crowder has proven to be an indispensable player on Boston's roster. If he continues to develop his shot he will only further legitimize his spot as the perceived leader and identity of this team.
Photo credit: Soobum Im/USA Today
Follow Luis on Twitter @luisdgnyc Luis Gonzalez 9/30/2016 11:02:00 AM Tweet Edit