From bargain to bellwether: Is Jae Crowder an all-star?
Jae Crowder is to highlights as Dustin Pedroia is to hitting home runs; an infrequent participant who you are downright surprised to see doing something outside the bounds of what they excel at. Yet just like his scrappy counterpart on the diamond, it's not what Crowder can't do that defines him. It's what he is able to do with what talent he has been given.
Crowder will not dunk over you. He will not break your ankles with fancy dribble moves, and he will not be the one erasing what seemed to be an open shot attempt in the blink of an eye. He is neither lightning quick nor blazing fast, and to call his movements fluid would be doing an injustice to the word.
There are, however, two things Crowder is, and those two things are all that matter at the end of the day; efficient, and effective.
Let us start our drum-beating with the first of the two, Crowder's efficiency. His ability to score points in bunches on a low number of attempts was certainly on display last night against Brooklyn, when he delivered a career high 25 points on only 13 shot attempts. But such outings are becoming the norm for the Minimal (the mini-Manimal? Get it? No? Ok.) -- in two straight games prior to the Celtics two game losing streak, Crowder scored 29 points on 22 shots, and over his last ten games has scored 171 points on only 126 shot attempts.
Crowder's rate statistics on the efficiency scale may not wow you -- shooting 44% overall and a league-average 35% from three do not an all star make. But those numbers have been steadily climbing; Crowder shot only a measly 38% in October and 42% in November, but upped that to 46% in December and now a robust 50% in January (albeit in a VERY small sample size). His three point percentage has followed a similar trajectory, going from abysmal (32% in November) to above average (38% in December) to borderline elite (40% so far in January).
The efficiency is certainly nice, especially for a player who rarely has a play called for him, but effectiveness in other aspects to go along with said efficiency is the cherry on top of our dreadlock-laden Jae Crowder sundae.
According to yahoo sports, Crowder is 13th among all forwards at 5.3 rebounds per game (yet another number that has progressively ticked up over the course of the season) eleventh in scoring average. Add to that the fact that he is an advanced stats darling (offensive rating of 103.0, defensive rating of 97.2, and a net rating of 6.1, according to nba.com), and Crowder is at least on the border of the all-star conversation.
Add to all of that his nearly two steals per game (1.8 to be precise) and the sort of individual defense that has garnered the respect of superstars from Paul George to Lebron James, and the question that has been languishing in the background comes straight to the fore; why not Jae?
The way the all-star game works, Crowder likely wont make it unless he can continue to trend upwards with his base statistics -- something like 16 points and six rebounds to go along with his two steals would probably put him squarely in the conversation. But with these Celtics and their equal opportunity offense, there is just no way of knowing if Crowder can count on that sort of major uptick in production before the rosters are selected.
It may be unlikely, and in a few weeks it may not even be worth talking about. but today, here and now, I have only one thing left to say, one clarion call to repeat -- why not Jae?
Photo courtesy of the Boston Herald
Video courtesy of Tomasz Kordylewski via Youtube
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