Lost in the aftermath of a twitter tirade was Jae Crowder's finest scoring performance of the season. He went 5 for 5 from deep and racked up 21 points on 6 of 8 from the field as a whole. This is only the 2nd time Jae has gone for 20+ points this season, but he has quietly been putting together an extremely efficient campaign. He's improved in nearly every offensive category from a year ago, and in some by leaps. Via Basketball-Reference.com:
He's also damn close to a 50-40-90 season which is absurd. https://t.co/tSgV3Iz7OP— Jay King (@ByJayKing) January 4, 2017
Crowder has been getting the exact same amount of playing time as last year, and yet he's been able to maintain his scoring output by while taking 17% less field goal attempts. Part of the reason for that is he's taking more three-pointers than ever this year, a career-high 5.3 per game, but not only is he taking more, he's shooting 43% from deep - up from 33.6% only a season ago. In fact, he's shooting better from the outside than some of the big names you're used to hearing at the top of that list:
Jae Crowder's 3-point % is higher than Steph, Klay, Korver, Kawhi, Durant, Love, among others: https://t.co/e2DR5u6nrQ— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 4, 2017
Jae claims his uptick in shooting percentage has nothing to do with changing his form for anything like that, just a lot of hard work. Via Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe:
“I just stayed with the process of staying in the gym,” he said. “I didn’t change anything mechanically. I just put a little more work in and tried to be more confident.
“My college coach used to always say you get true confidence from your work that you put in, so I’ll just keep working at it. Nothing changed mechanically; nothing changed with how I release the ball or anything like that.”
Crowder has been the beneficiary of a lot of open looks, because he's essentially the 4th option on offense in the Celtics' starting-lineup. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are both averaging career highs in scoring, and the attention they have been drawing from defenses has gotten Jae some better opportunities than he's had in previous seasons. The addition of Al Horford opens up the floor for those guys in major ways. Horford clears the lane for those guys because he's a big-time threat from distance - drawing opponents bigs away from the basket to account for him. Those guys have both taken full advantage, Isaiah in particular looks unstoppable at times, and Crowder has made the most of his opportunities as well. When Brad Stevens space-and-pace system is running in top gear, the ball moves around the court quickly, creating open shots for shooters. It was on full display against Utah this past Tuesday.
As for after the game, we all know about the Twitter tirade that followed it. Now I can totally see where Jae is coming from, you won't find me cheering for opposing players at the Garden that weren't at least at one point Celtics, but he certainly could have handled his emotions a little (a lot) better. Although Danny Ainge hopes the fans continue to cheer for the opposing small forward at every home game if it gets Jae fired up and playing like he did Monday, as he said on his weekly appearance on Toucher and Rich this morning:
"[Laughs] Well i dunno, but if I can get the crowd to cheer for the starting small forward on every game Jae will play his best, I like that." Ainge joked. Whatever Jae it takes to get himself motivated, I'm okay with that."
He also added that he's not at all worried about it having a negative effect on Crowder or the team going forward:
“I’m not worried about Jae Crowder at all. He’s a true pro and loves being a Celtic. He loves his teammates and they love him,” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “What he does day-in and day-out is much more than a tantrum on Twitter.”
With all the trade ideas and proposals we've heard, I would argue that of the younger Celtics Jae is the least likely to be moved in a deal. He's 26 years old, heading into his prime, and he's signed for a bargain basement deal through 2020 (less than 8 million per-yr). Both Isaiah and Avery are going to land big contracts at the end of next season when they hit the free-agent market, and it's going to be nearly impossible to keep both and add/have another max-deal on the books alongside Horford's. Crowder's deal however will still fit in very nicely, and he will become more and more valuable as he continues to grow as a player.
Photo Credit - Associated Press
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Mark Allison 1/05/2017 01:00:00 PM Tweet Edit