Boston Celtics: Jordan Crawford

Report card: The departed

May, 4, 2014
5/04/14
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesJordan Crawford helped Boston to some of its best basketball this season.
With the Boston Celtics' 2013-14 campaign in the rearview mirror, we've busted out our red pens and assigned grades to each player based on their individual performances this season. Our annual reminder that players are graded based on expectations versus personal performance. This is the 14th in a series of end-of-the-season report cards:

Player: Jordan Crawford
2013-14 stats with Boston: 13.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.1 rpg, 30.7 mpg, 39 games
2013-14 stats with Golden State: 8.4 ppg, 1.4 apg, 1.5 rpg, 15.7 mpg, 42 games
2013-14 salary: $2.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Jordan Crawford?

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    34%
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    49%
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    13%
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    2%
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    2%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,026)

Season in a paragraph: Crawford got first crack at filling Rajon Rondo's shoes while the All-Star point guard rehabbed from ACL surgery and turned in the best basketball of his career. Crawford was spectacular, even earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award in December. But he became expendable as Rondo neared a return, and the Celtics shipped him to Golden State (along with MarShon Brooks) in a deal that brought back some draft picks and Joel Anthony. The chance to join a contender was offset a bit by the fact that Crawford's minutes were sliced in half.

Teacher's notes: Steez, how we miss thee. You could make the case that Crawford was the MVP for Boston at a time when they were hovering around .500 ball in early December. The Celtics went 12-31 (.279 winning percentage) after dealing Crawford away. Here's hoping someone gives Crawford another chance to prove himself in a big role wherever he lands next. Most Celtics fans were ready to move on from Crawford after he was barking at Carmelo Anthony during the 2012-13 playoffs, but he endeared himself with his play at the start of the 2013-14 season.



Player: Courtney Lee
2013-14 stats with Boston: 7.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 49.2 FG%, 44.2 3PT%, 30 games
2013-14 stats with Memphis: 11 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 47.6 FG%, 34.5 3PT%, 49 games
2013-14 salary: $5.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Courtney Lee?

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    9%
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    31%
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    42%
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    14%
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    4%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,690)

Season in a paragraph: The Celtics were lauded for the steal of the offseason in 2012 when they used a collection of nonguaranteed contracts and second-round picks to land Lee in a multiteam swap. He never quite found his groove in Year 1 and despite some excellent shooting percentages early in the 2013-14 campaign, Boston made the move to clear Lee's long-term salary commitment (while also bringing Jerryd Bayless back in return).

Teacher's notes: It's rare that a trade works out so well for both sides, but the Celtics and Grizzlies each got what they wanted out of the deal. Lee never quite thrived here and the Celtics were willing to give up the more talented player in the swap in order to clear his salary. Lee ended up starting 47 games in Memphis and helped the Grizzlies get into the playoffs.



Gone but not forgotten: Keith Bogans would get the harshest grade on the team if we let fans vote. The 33-year-old veteran guard played just 55 minutes over six games while taking home $5.1 million for his role in the Celtics-Nets swap. He was excused in mid-January, but stuck on the roster because the nonguarnateed money in his deal makes him a valuable trade asset this summer. ... MarShon Brooks played only 73 minutes in 10 appearances and Golden State dealt him away after little more than a month after acquiring him. ... Vander Blue got a 10-day contract in late January with the team thin on bodies, but appeared in only three games.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on the 2013-14 season for Crawford, Lee, Brooks or Blue? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Crawford's Boston return bittersweet

March, 6, 2014
3/06/14
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BOSTON -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge alerted Jordan Crawford in the preseason that, due to Boston's logjam at the shooting guard position, there was a chance he could be moved at some point during the 2013-14 campaign.

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesJordan Crawford enjoyed a laugh with Jared Sullinger before the Warriors routed the Celtics.
So the call in mid-January alerting Crawford that he had been dealt to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team swap didn't come as a complete surprise. What did was how hard it was to leave Boston.

A wistful Crawford reflected fondly on a short-but-sweet 11 months in Boston, particularly the first 75 days of the current season when the Celtics inserted him as starting point guard in the absence of rehabbing Rajon Rondo and watched Crawford flourish in his fourth NBA season.

"I miss [Boston], actually," said Crawford. "I miss it. It was home for a minute. The first time I got to play a lot of minutes. I got to have ups, I had downs, and how you adjust to playing bad, how to get back. So it was a lot of positives.

"That's probably the hardest part of leaving, because it really did feel like home a little bit, even though I was only here for less than a year."

The Celtics acquired Crawford for a scoring burst at the trade deadline in February 2013. He played sparingly on a veteran team that was bounced from the first round of the playoffs and ushered in a rebuilding process, but he bought into a role as more of a facilitating point guard to start the 2013-14 campaign. Crawford averaged 13.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds over 39 games with Boston, including 35 starts.

Boston moved him to the Warriors as part of a three-team deal that brought back Joel Anthony and future draft picks. With Golden State, Crawford finds himself in another crowded backcourt. Entering Wednesday's game, Crawford was averaging 7.2 points, 1.8 assists and 1.5 rebounds over 16.1 minutes per game in 21 appearances for the Warriors.

He scored 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting over 19:26 during Golden State's 108-88 shellacking of Boston on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

After the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens -- along with many of his former teammates -- sought out Crawford to wish him luck the rest of the way.

"He can score the ball, there's no question about it," said Stevens. "My hat's off to him, the way he played tonight. I told him after the game, I hope he really finishes strong. I'm a fan. I was a fan, am a fan. It's good to see him have success, but I don't like it when it's against our team. I said this a couple weeks ago after we played MarShon [Brooks] -- you invest in those guys and when they leave you, you wish them to have success."

(Read full story)

C's trade Brooks, Crawford

January, 15, 2014
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The Boston Celtics have traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team deal that will send Toney Douglas to the Miami Heat and Joel Anthony and two draft picks to Boston, sources told ESPN.com.

Crawford has become expendable with the expected return of Rajon Rondo, perhaps as early as later this week. Crawford was having a career season, averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 assists in 39 games.

The Celtics announced Wednesday that they have assigned Rondo to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League in order to take part in a workout.

"Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. "This is a brief assignment so that Rajon can participate in a workout this afternoon with the Red Claws and he will be called back up to the Celtics upon the conclusion of the workout."

The Celtics will get the seldom-used 6-foot-9 Anthony from Miami, in addition to a pair of draft picks: A future second-rounder and also a protected first-round pick acquired initially from Philadelphia that could become a second-rounder.

(Read full story)

Grantland: The Jordan Rules

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
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Kirk Goldsberry/GrantlandJordan Crawford's shooting evolution.
From our friends at Grantland:
Two seasons ago, Crawford made 40 percent of his midrange shots; last season he made 43 percent; this season he’s up to 51 percent, which is probably not sustainable, but we’re a quarter of the way through the season and that’s really promising. He has shown similar growth pattern as a 3-point shooter. Just two years ago he made only 29 percent of his 3s; last year he made 35 percent, and this season he’s making 40 percent. Crawford’s image might not mesh with what we generally associate with player development, but his shot chart is beginning to resemble that of a very trustworthy NBA guard.

(Read full post)

Crawford named Player of the Week

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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NEW YORK -- Boston Celtics point guard Jordan Crawford was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Green to the East's only spotless record of the week.

Crawford topped Boston in scoring in all three games in wins over the Bucks, Nuggets, and Knicks. He averaged 23.3 points per game in that span (fourth best in the conference) while shooting 61 percent from the field (sixth best in East) to go along with 6.7 assists and 3 rebounds per contest. Crawford also made 12-of-23 3-pointers last week, with half of those coming when he made a career-high six against the Knicks on Sunday.

A snapshot of Crawford's week via the NBA:
Dec. 3 vs. Milwaukee: Tallied a season-high 25 points and added five assists and two rebounds in a 108-100 win over the Bucks.

Dec. 6 vs. Denver: Posted 22 points, eight assists and four rebounds during a 106-98 win over the Nuggets.

Dec. 8 @ New York: Connected on six three-point field goals en route to 23 points, and added seven assists and three rebounds in a 114-73 win over the Knicks.

In the East, Crawford beat out Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings and Indiana’s Paul George. Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge was the Western Conference Player of the Week.

For more on Crawford's recent exploits, hop HERE or HERE.

Notebook: Steez aims to please

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
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NEW YORK -- Fresh off leading the Boston Celtics in scoring for the third straight game, Jordan Crawford was asked if he took any additional satisfaction in Sunday's performance against the New York Knicks given his limited playoff role when the Celtics faced the Knicks last season.

"No," Crawford said. "If it was my choice, I would have played last year."

Maybe no player has been more of a revelation this season than Crawford, who has gotten an opportunity to play first-unit point guard as Rajon Rondo rehabs from ACL surgery and has used it to cement himself as one of Boston's key contributors this season. During last year's first-round playoff series against the Knicks, Crawford played sparingly and only drew headlines for barking at Carmelo Anthony after Boston's Game 5 win.

Back at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Crawford scored a team-best 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and made six 3-pointers as part of Boston's 114-73 dismantling of the Knicks. Crawford added seven assists, three rebounds and didn't turn the ball over in 31 minutes of floor time. He was plus-38 in plus/minus for the game.

Over Boston's last eight contests -- a span in which the Celtics have posted a 6-2 mark -- Crawford is averaging 17.1 points, 7.1 assists and 3.9 rebounds over 33.6 minutes per game. What's more, Crawford is producing that output on only 12.3 shots per game, shedding his reputation as a volume scorer with bad shot selection.

"He’s playing well," coach Brad Stevens said. "I’ve seen Jordan and all the scoring doesn’t surprise me -- he’s always been really good at it, he’s always been a tough-shot maker. I think the best part about it is he’s picking his spots extremely well and he’s defending extremely well. This is not about guys, what they could do yesterday or what they’ve done in the past. It’s about what you can do to better improve yourself and he’s done a really good job of just getting better and really embracing that."

The lingering question with Crawford is how Stevens will find minutes for him when Rondo is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Ideally for Boston, Crawford can settle in as a second-unit combo guard, maybe chipping away at the minutes being played by undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey as he develops at the NBA level. Can Crawford maintain his production playing less consistent minutes with the second unit? That remains to be seen.

With Rondo not expected back until January, it's not something Stevens has to worry about right now. Unlike last season, Crawford is going to get plenty of opportunity to thrive on the floor and he's taking full advantage at the moment.

[Note: For more on Crawford's emergence this season, hop HERE]

Some other leftovers from Sunday's game:
  • BRADLEY'S DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Avery Bradley recorded the first double-double of his four-year career during Sunday's win while putting up 13 points and 10 rebounds over 28:24. Bradley admitted he's been trying to improve his work on the glass in order to help Boston's bigs. "It’s been a focus for me because I know my team needs me to do it, especially not having Rondo," Bradley said. "We’re not the tallest team, so they need the guards to help. That’s what I’ve been trying to do every game. I just need to be more consistent with it." Bradley's defensive rebound rate through Boston's first 17 games was a mere 10.4 percent (one of the lowest on the team among regulars). But over the last five games, it's bounced up to 12.4 percent (for comparison, Rondo's career defensive rebound rate is 12 percent).

  • C'S NOT CONTENT: The Celtics are playing some really inspired ball the past two weeks and Sunday was maybe their most complete effort of the season. But they refuse to celebrate. "We’re not content with where we are at," said Jeff Green, who scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and was plus-42 overall. "We have some things that we can get better at as far as communication, our defensive schemes, and offensively. ... There’s some things that we can get better at. We enjoy a win like this, yes, but we still have some room to improve and that’s what we need to do [Monday at practice]."

  • LOOSE BALLS: Boston's bench will get overlooked amid the gaudy numbers put up by the starters, but Courtney Lee had a very steady afternoon. He scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting over 19:36 and played excellent defense at the other end. ... Gerald Wallace didn't put up a shot over 21:22. This is the third game this season that he hasn't attempt a single field goal in at least 21 minutes of play. Wallace chipped in three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block on Sunday. ... Pressey missed three shots in Sunday's game. He hasn't made a field goal since Nov. 25, a span of six games and 63 minutes of floor time. He's still a steadying presence at backup point guard despite the lack of offensive output.

Wild-card Crawford becomes C's ace

December, 7, 2013
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BOSTON -- Brad Stevens, the Boston Celtics' first-year coach, always knew Jordan Crawford had a knack for the big shot.

AP Photo/Michael DwyerJordan Crawford is delivering a string of clutch performances.
His fifth-seeded Butler team having upset top-ranked Syracuse in 2010, Stevens was in the crowd in Salt Lake City watching sixth-seeded Xavier play second-seeded Kansas State in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament when Crawford hit a 3-pointer from what seemed like nearby West Jordan, Utah, to force a second overtime session.

Most conservative estimates put it at 35 feet. When it's told in the future, legend will put it somewhere between 50 feet and a football field (judge for yourself in this snapshot). Crawford came off a high pick-and-roll, found an inch of separation, and drilled the contested shot.

"The magnitude of that shot, I could not forget," Stevens said. "He has the ability to knock those shots down, and that's a good trait to have."

Crawford entered the 2013-14 season with basically no expectations. Brought in at last season's trade deadline to be a wild card for the postseason-bound Celtics, Crawford's most noteworthy Boston moment came when he caused a bit of a dust-up while jawing at Carmelo Anthony after the Celtics' Game 5 win at Madison Square Garden in the first round of the playoffs.

Seven months later, as Boston prepares to return to New York for this season's first regular-season meeting with the New York Knicks on Sunday, Crawford has gone from a bit of an afterthought to one of the key cogs for the surprising leader of a disheveled Atlantic Division.

During Boston's past seven games, a stretch in which the Celtics are 5-2 overall, Crawford is averaging 16.3 points, 7.1 assists and 4 rebounds over 34 minutes per game. Crawford has led Boston in scoring in each of its past two games -- both wins -- and hit clutch late-game shots in both to prevent the opposing team from rallying all the way back.

In typical Crawford fashion, he takes it all in stride. He brushes off the notion that he's playing the best basketball of his career (in Boston, maybe, he relents) and shrugged off his late-game clutchness. "It's just the way the game went," he offered after Friday's win over the Denver Nuggets.

During Boston's past seven games, the Celtics own a sparkly 108.8 offensive rating when Crawford is on the floor. Not only is that a whopping 10 points higher than the team's season average (98.7), the rating dips to 95.5 when he's on the bench during that same seven-game span. The team's defensive rating with Crawford on the floor is 101.2 during these seven games, which is in line with the team's season average (101.8).

All of which is a fancy way of saying good things are happening with Crawford on the court, particularly on the offensive end. Ever since joining Boston's starting lineup, he has provided a calming presence alongside backcourt mate Avery Bradley by easing the ball-handling responsibilities. Crawford's player efficiency rating is at a career-high 18.9 (his career average is 14.3) and his true shooting percentage (adjusted for 3-point field goals) is also a career-best 57.1 percent.

(Read full post)

Crawford's sneaky triple-double

November, 30, 2013
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Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesJordan Crawford delivers an alley-oop feed to Jeff Green on Friday against the Cavaliers.
BOSTON -- If Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens honestly knew that Jordan Crawford had registered a triple-double, he put on an Oscar-worthy performance trying to suggest the opposite.

Sitting at the dais for his postgame news conference, Stevens was asked about Crawford's 11-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist night that kinda sorta blended into the scenery of a jam-packed box score during Boston's 103-86 thrashing of the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at TD Garden.

"He had a triple double? Crawford did? Holy smokes," said Stevens, his voice jumping up an octave in disbelief. "I had no idea."

Suspicious media members wondered if Stevens was feigning disbelief.

"I had no idea," pleaded Stevens. "He had 11 rebounds!? Jordan Crawford had 11 rebounds?"

You seem surprised, Coach.

"Shocked," answered Stevens.

A follow-up question asked about how effective Crawford was.

"Shockingly effective," answered Stevens. "I don’t know what else to tell you. He was good, he was solid. He didn’t shoot it great, obviously, but everything else he did pretty well. It’s good that our guards rebound. Our guards need to rebound for us to win."

Crawford quietly spearheaded Boston's first-quarter effort that tore the game open. Playing the entire first frame, he scored four points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out three assists (two of which were of the alley-oop variety) as Boston scored 18 of the game's first 20 points.

With 9:04 remaining, Crawford had only six points, nine rebounds and seven assists as he checked back into the game. Somewhere during the next 7½ minutes, he said he went up to Stevens and "whispered in his ear a little bit" about wanting to stay in despite the lopsided score.

Crawford grabbed rebound No. 10 with 5:36 to go, then had a three-assist flurry over a 76-second span to reach double figures there as well. Thus began the quest to reach 10 points with under four minutes to play.

(Read full post)

Plenty of pluses for Crawford

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
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Was Saturday's effort the best game of Jordan Crawford's career?

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/GettyJordan Crawford has given Boston's sluggish offense a boost this season.
If you judge solely by plus/minus, you can actually make that case. According to Basketball Reference's plus/minus data, Crawford matched a career high by finishing plus-24 while helping the Boston Celtics rally past the Atlanta Hawks 94-87 on Saturday night at Philips Arena.

The Basketball Reference data also suggests that Crawford has finished in the positive in little more than 30 percent of his career games. So just being on that side of the ledger is noteworthy. But Crawford didn't just chip in 12 points, 10 assists and three rebounds on Saturday. He made two key buckets in the final two minutes to help Boston snap a six-game losing streak.

That plus-24 matches Crawford's career best effort, from Valentine's Day 2012, when he scored 21 points off the bench in a 124-109 win in Portland. Crawford scored a team-high 24 points in a loss to Indiana on Friday night but lamented the team's inability to finish out the game as the Pacers motored away in the second half.

On Saturday, Crawford struggled with his shot early on, but the Celtics put the ball in his hands during crunch time and he rewarded their faith. After rallying from a 12-point deficit, Boston was up one with two minutes to go when Crawford came off a high pick-and-roll and blew past Al Horford to get into the lane. Two Hawks stepped up to defend, but Crawford gently floated in a layup for an 88-85 lead.

With a minute to go and Boston still up three, Crawford took the shot clock down before attacking the basket. He got a step on Jeff Teague and attacked Horford in the paint, finding a sliver of space to deliver a little 13-foot runner for a five-point cushion.

"He really wanted the ball in those moments, and I thought it was the best thing to get it to him," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "After he made the first couple of moves, the guys came back to the huddle and said, 'Put it in his hands.’ Maybe it will be somebody else some other night, but tonight it was him."

So what do we make of Crawford's recent play? After joining the starting lineup early in the season, Boston reeled off four straight wins with his help. As the team endured a six-game losing streak, it appeared Crawford was coming back to earth a bit with his turnovers on the rise. He still gave the ball away four times on Saturday, but the Celtics were able to overcome it because of their team defense in the fourth quarter and Crawford's offensive exploits.

Through 15 games, Boston's offensive rating is 10 points better with Crawford on the floor (99.9) than off (89.9). Not surprisingly, the team's defensive rating is 2 points worse than the season average with Crawford on the court, but the offensive burst negates that, considering Boston's offensive struggles this season. The Celtics rebound better with Crawford on the court and they turn the ball over fewer times as a team. Boston's pace perks up and its shooting percentages climb both overall and especially beyond the 3-point arc. Crawford is minus-24 overall in 412 minutes of court time, but the Celtics are minus-58 in the 308 minutes he's off the floor.

All of which suggests the team needs Crawford and his ability to make plays. Crawford handed out 10 assists Saturday, which included a pair of beautiful first-half alley-oop feeds to Brandon Bass and Jeff Green. He's not perfect and he's not a pure point guard, but the good tends to outweigh the bad with Crawford.

The only real downside is his struggles to prevent dribble penetration. Opponents have a habit of getting past Crawford and into the paint, which causes cracks in Boston's help defense. But Crawford uses his long arms and herky-jerky style to fluster opponents at times. His individual defensive numbers are surprisingly decent (he allows 0.761 points per play, ranking in the 75th percentile, according to Synergy Sports), but that data often ignores the times when teammates are forced into help situations to cover for him.

Saturday wasn't Crawford's best career outing, but the results are hard to argue against. Crawford continues to be a key element for Boston early in the season as the team waits for Rajon Rondo to navigate the final stages of ACL rehab. Crawford's role could get murkier from there, but for now he's averaging 12.1 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds over 26.9 minutes per game.

Reflecting on Saturday's win, Crawford told reporters, "It feels good to win because it didn’t seem like we were supposed to win."

Few expected Crawford to be a key part of any success Boston tasted this season, but he's been an integral part in all five victories. Maybe that's why his effort Saturday seemed so good.

Swaggy Crawford still center of attention

November, 12, 2013
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The day after his double-double effort in a win over the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford remained the center of attention at the team's practice.

Crawford, who ducked out of TD Garden while most reporters were still at coach Brad Stevens' postgame press conference on Monday night, held court for four minutes and was as entertaining to listen to as he's been to watch lately.

That included this humorous exchange with a reporter to start his confab with reporters:
Q: You've obviously had success in the past, but this is the best you've played in your career so far I'd say ...

Crawford: (Interjecting) You'd say.

Q: Would you say [it's his best basketball]?

Crawford: No, not really. But you can keep going.

Q: What would you say is the best you've played in your career?

Crawford: What is your question?

Q: What's different about your situation in Boston? What makes this situation good for you?

Crawford: "The fact that I’m getting an opportunity to play. It’s pretty much it."

Crawford had some other gems, like after a reporter asked him about passing up open jump shots to feed teammates near the hoop. An incredulous Crawford replied, "If it’s an easier shot and you’re wide open, it makes sense, don't it?"

Asked if he's been misunderstood in the past, Crawford said, "I don’t really want people to understand me. I let people do their guessing on me and let them think what they want to think. I don’t really care."

Crawford also reflected on a phone call he got from coach Brad Stevens during an offday Sunday, one in which the first-year coach implored him to keep up his solid play while spearheading the offense, particularly with Boston coming off a thrilling win in Miami on Saturday.

"That was a big call, because people could have been high off the win and really excited," said Crawford. "So for him to do that, to make sure we came in prepared was important. He’s communicating well with me, and I’m communicating back. It just makes it easier; I know what he wants from me."

For his part, Stevens continues to sing Crawford's praises.

"One thing about Jordan, he’s authentic," said Stevens. "He is who he is and I’ve said this, and I believe this, he likes basketball. There’s a lot of guys in basketball that don’t necessarily love it the way that he likes it. That’s a good thing. And it shows itself. I said this when we were playing back-to-backs in the preseason, Jordan Crawford was amped to play because it was what he would have been doing on a Saturday night anyway. That’s a real positive, and he’s playing well right now."

Most importantly, Crawford's swag isn't lost on his teammates, either.

"He’s a Detroit player, so he’s got some swag to him," joked Brandon Bass. "But lately he’s been able to control himself, play under control. And last night, he played unbelievable."

Added Bass: "Everybody has their own swag in their own way. I just think that he displays his a lot more than everybody else. But you know what? I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with it. You need swagger. It shows you’re very confident in yourself and I guess it would rub off on everybody else."

(For more on Crawford's on-court impact since being moved to the starting lineup, hop HERE).

Point made: Crawford's court vision

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
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BOSTON -- Basking in the glow of a double-double performance that featured a team-high 10 assists, Jordan Crawford was asked about his passing skills after spearheading the Boston Celtics to a 120-105 triumph over the Orlando Magic on Monday night at TD Garden.
AP Photo/Charles KrupaJordan Crawford balanced his own scoring with setting up his teammates in Monday's win over Orlando.
"Y’all just now noticing that, huh?" he asked. "I was blessed with court vision. When a teammate is open, you find him.”

Crawford did that with flare on Monday, often twirling his way to fancy dishes or passing up an open shot to feed a teammate for an easy basket at the rim. The 25-year-old Crawford produced only the fourth double-digit assist game of his career, adding 16 points (on 7-of-12 shooting), five rebounds and a steal over 32 minutes 36 seconds of floor time. He was plus-15 in plus/minus.

The Celtics are 4-0 since Crawford was inserted into the starting lineup to add a ball-handler next to Avery Bradley. Billed as a shoot-first guard throughout his career, Crawford was asked if he likes playing point this season.

"I feel that I’m a point guard," Crawford said. "That’s other people that listed me at shooting guard."

Crawford's impact on Boston's offense is undeniable. Over the past four games, the Celtics own an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 109.3 when he's on the court; it drops eight points when he's off the floor. The downside is an uptick in the team's defensive rating (104.4 when Crawford is on the court; 93.7 when he's off), but it's hard to argue with the end result, particularly with how well Bradley has played with Crawford next to him.

One other monster benefit of having Crawford on the floor as a ball-handling presence: Boston's turnover rate has plummeted. The Celtics were the worst team in the league in turnover percentage while dropping their first four games. In the four wins since, Boston's turnover rate drops to 13 percent when Crawford is on the floor -- it's still up at 18 percent for the season.

"I think he’s really doing a great job," coach Brad Stevens said. "He’s got a lot of confidence out there. He’s always been a guy that had good confidence about him, but I think the thing that I’ve been most pleased with through really the entire time I’ve been around him is his consistency. That’s an area in which you have to really embrace if you’re going to be a good point guard because everybody’s depending on you to be reliable on a day-to-day basis."

Stevens noted how he phoned Crawford during Sunday's offday (oh, to hear that conversation!) and spoke of how Monday's game was the team's biggest of the season coming off a thrilling (but flawed) win in Miami. During pregame warm-ups, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge slung his arm around Crawford's shoulders and imparted some friendly advice.

Crawford responded to the challenge and his evolving game isn't lost on his teammates.

"I think he’s more mature," Jeff Green said. "I know he had a bad rep coming from the Wizards [as] just a one-way player. Now he’s learning the game. He’s playing both ends. He’s bigger than a lot of guards so he can shoot right over them. And he has the mentality to turn it on when need be."

Maturing Crawford carving out role

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
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AP Photo/Michael DwyerJordan Crawford looks to drive against the Knicks on Saturday in New Hampshire.
Poor New York Knicks rookie C.J. Leslie got himself twisted when Boston Celtics swingman MarShon Brooks left him flailing with a little up-fake/behind-the-back combo then sank a 15-foot fadeaway over him midway through the fourth quarter. From the other end of the court, Jordan Crawford laughed and bellowed, "Put him in a blender! A blender!" and Avery Bradley could only shake his head and smile.

"He talks a lot. But I love it because he doesn’t just back it up, he brings it every single game, every single practice," Bradley said of Crawford. "All you can do is respect somebody like that, and be happy he’s on your team. Because you have somebody that’s going to go out every single night and play hard with you, no matter what. I just love playing with him."

As the Celtics experiment with backcourt combinations in the absence of rehabbing Rajon Rondo, they might have found something in the Bradley-Crawford pairing. While both are more comfortable at shooting guard, their ability to split the ball-handling duties has taken some pressure off each of them and allowed their natural talents to take over.

The Bradley-Crawford combo helped Boston score the game's first 10 points Saturday sparking the Celtics to a lopsided 111-81 thrashing of the star-resting New York Knicks at Verizon Wireless Arena. Crawford finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 25:44.

Crawford, who has owned a less-than-flattering reputation as a talk-heavy shoot-first guard during his NBA career, is quietly trying to reinvent himself a bit this season. Acquired at last year's trade deadline to add a wild-card presence to a depleted Boston roster, the Celtics now see Crawford as a valuable combo guard who can throttle his shot output and showcase his underrated passing skills.

And his teammates are standing up for Crawford, suggesting his reputation is misguided, overblown by incidents like Game 5 of an Eastern Conference first-round series last year when he got a little too boisterous while spewing postgame trash talk at New York's Carmelo Anthony.

"[Crawford is] very misunderstood," said Jared Sullinger. "He’s really a team-first type of guy. Very good teammate. And he makes the right plays. Everybody says he makes the wrong plays, [but] he makes the right plays. And he looks for his shot, and that’s what everybody does. He knows his role."

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Practice: Crawford, Brooks leave session

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics could be short two guards for Wednesday's preseason tilt against the New York Knicks as Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks both departed Tuesday's practice session early.

Crawford was excused for a death in the family, while Brooks developed a headache in the middle of practice and was advised to take the rest of the day off. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that the absences should open the door for others, including undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey, who did not play in Monday's exhibition opener.

AP Photo/John RaouxPhil Pressey will get his first game action since summer on Wednesday night against the Knicks.
"We're going to have other guys play a lot," Stevens said. "We're going to be without Jordan. Jordan had a death in his family and had to go home, so we're all thinking about him and praying for him. He just left at the end of practice, so he will not be there tomorrow."

As for Brooks, who played only 2:27 in his Boston debut on Monday, Stevens noted, "MarShon got a headache in the middle of practice. He met with [trainer] Ed [Lacerte], and Ed thought it was best that he go home. I don’t know [the prognosis] long term, but he was here at the start [of practice]."

Stevens said the lineups will be more scripted for Wednesday's game in Providence, but that Pressey would be a big part of the game plan at the point guard spot.

"You'll see a lot more of Phil Pressey, which is good," Stevens said. "I'm really looking forward to that. I think he's done a great job. I knew that prior to last night's game. That's why I didn’t play Phil last night and played Jordan a couple more minutes. So that was the point behind that. We'll still mix and match a little bit, but I thought that we did find some good combinations."

One other bit of injury news: Avery Bradley sported a large wrap over his left hand after practice, but downplayed the protection. He injured the index finger on his left hand in camp and has had it wrapped for most of the preseason and is simply taking all precautions. Bradley topped the team in minutes on Monday night and expects another heavy workload on Wednesday.

"[Bradley] hasn't said a word about it to me," Stevens said. "He hasn't found it to be debilitating, so I think he's playing through whatever pain he's got. I know he had an X-ray and everything was negative last week."

Read on for practice notes, including more on Pressey as he prepares for his first game activity in Boston and Stevens reviews the film from Monday's loss to the Raptors:

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Countdown to camp: The Crawford project

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
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Training camp begins at the end of the month for the Boston Celtics and each weekday leading up to the formal start of the 2013-14 campaign, we'll dive into our Celtics Mailbag and tackle a camp-related question:  

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesJordan Crawford: Point guard?
Q: How do you see Jordan Crawford's season panning out? Will he soak up some minutes while Rajon Rondo is out, or is he not in coach Brad Stevens' plans? -- Nick (Sydney, Australia)

A: The Celtics' traffic jam at the shooting guard position has left many to wonder if Crawford will stick on the roster throughout the 2013-14 season. The addition of MarShon Brooks muddies Crawford's role at an already crowded position that includes Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Keith Bogans.

With Boston desperate for a wild-card scorer at last February's trade deadline, the Celtics begrudgingly traded away veteran center Jason Collins (and injured Leandro Barbosa) to land the enigmatic Crawford. Crawford had occasional bursts of contribution, but had a limited postseason role (11.8 minutes per game) and his most noteworthy moment came after the buzzer of Game 5 in New York where his postgame jawing at Carmelo Anthony went viral. Last week at a youth basketball clinic in Dorchester, Crawford said he's trying to be more of a leader on a young team (which was met with snickers by most of his pundits).

If you're Crawford, this is an important season. He's essentially in the final year of a rookie deal with a $3.2 million qualifying offer looming for the 2014-15 season. Crawford has the reputation of being an aloof scorer whose best ball came on bad teams. Bottom line: The soon-to-be 25-year-old guard has something to prove this year.

Crawford's career shows a low-efficiency scorer who can't consistently shoot 3-pointers (career 30.1 percent) and seemingly thrives in the safety of lopsided games. The one intriguing aspect of his skill set remains his passing ability, which is vastly underrated and left Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gushing last year that Crawford was potentially the best passer on the team.

For the 2012-13 season, Crawford averaged a career-best 4.7 assists per 36 minutes between Washington and Boston. His assist percentage was a career-best 25.5 percent with the Wizards. For perspective, Crawford's 19.1 assists percentage with Boston last season was fourth best behind Rondo (49.3), Paul Pierce (25.1), and Terrence Williams (19.7).

Williams was a victim of numbers (and a nonguaranteed contract), but the Celtics could consider putting Crawford on the Williams plan. Williams, a former lottery pick, viewed himself as a typical NBA swingman, but Ainge and the Celtics implored him to work as a ball-handler, which opened doors for him (including in the postseason where he competed with Crawford for backcourt minutes).

If I'm Boston brass, I'm highlighting that gaping void at backup ball-handler to Crawford (and the others in the shooting guard mix) and suggesting there's minutes to be won for those that can throttle their own offensive exploits and show an ability to get others involved. Undrafted rookie Phil Pressey is the only pure ball-handler behind rehabbing Rondo.

For Crawford, the leash is likely shorter than most. His contract status puts the onus on him to make himself part of Boston's future. Otherwise, his $2.2 million salary this season is more likely to end up as an asset to combine as part of a larger move.

The question is whether Crawford could remain committed to being a facilitator and take higher-percentage shots. In a way, it's asking him to reshape his game. What's more, after putting up solid defensive numbers in his Boston infancy, he regressed and finished the season allowing 0.902 points per play, ranking him in the 29th percentile among all players for his abbreviated time in Boston. He needs to invest greater on that side of the ball if he's going to be inconsistent offensively.

The bottom line is there's an opportunity for Crawford here. Boston's roster makeup is working against him and his salary makes him a trade candidate, but Crawford will get a chance to earn minutes. His play will dictate if he sticks.

Summer Forecast: Gone by November

August, 16, 2013
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Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty ImagesWill Jordan Crawford still be here when the regular season tips off?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Which player won't make the opening-day roster?

We couldn't even pose this question before the Celtics (sort of) answered it. Boston traded second-year center Fab Melo to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday along with cash considerations to bring back the nonguaranteed contract of Donte Greene. Barring any additional offseason moves, it's likely that Boston will waive Greene and save $1 million in salary, dipping them below the luxury tax line -- something that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stressed his team in transition desires to do in order to help avoid looming repeater penalties in future seasons.

The Celtics currently have 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster, but we'll still pose the question as part of our summer series: Who won't be here when the regular season begins?

The guess here? Jordan Crawford. The Celtics cleared a little bit of their frontcourt logjam by dealing away Melo, but there's still a surplus of shooting guards. Crawford became expendable when Boston brought back MarShon Brooks as part of the blockbuster swap with the Brooklyn Nets.

With the uncertainty surrounding Rajon Rondo and his recovery from a torn ACL, there's a line of thinking that Crawford and his passing skills could hold value as a ballhandling guard should Rondo not be ready for the start of the season. But, ultimately, the question is whether Boston sees a long-term future with 24-year-old Crawford (who is due $2.1 million this season and is pegged for a $3.2 million qualifying offer next season). At the moment, it's hard to see where he fits.

Alas, it takes two to tango and Boston needs to find a home for Crawford. Acquired at the trade deadline, Crawford averaged 9.1 points and 2.5 assists over 21.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances for Boston. He appeared in five playoff games, but his most memorable moment might have been barking at Carmelo Anthony after a Game 5 win in New York.

Votes were split among our panelists, with 36.3 percent suggesting that Boston will make no further moves (at least before the start of the season). Crawford was the most popular player predicted to move, garnering 27.2 percent of the vote. Three other players: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries received at least one vote apiece as well.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jared Sullinger
PTS AST STL MIN
14.0 2.2 0.7 28.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsE. Turner 4.4
StealsM. Smart 1.1
BlocksJ. Sullinger 0.7