Boston Celtics: Jordan Crawford
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.
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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.
"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.
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.
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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.
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 ½ 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.
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).
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."
"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."
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.
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:
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.
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.
Player: Jordan Crawford
2012-13 averages: 9.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 21.6 mpg, 41.5 FG%, 32 3PT% (with Boston)
2012-13 salary: $1.2 million
Season highlight: In his fifth game with Boston, Crawford chipped in 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-for-2 beyond the arc) with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 16:17 in a 109-101 triumph over the host Philadelphia 76ers. That was exactly the sort of efficiency the Celtics craved from Crawford off the bench, but they rarely got it. He did play leapfrog with Boston's guard depth chart in the postseason, logging 25 minutes in a Game 2 loss before seeing his minutes thinned again over the rest of the series.
Season lowlight: Even after logging a DNP in a pivotal Game 5, Crawford couldn't help himself and barked at Anthony after Boston's 92-86 triumph. For the playoffs, Crawford shot 30.4 percent overall (7 of 23) and didn't have a single assist in 59 minutes of floor time. Not quite the wild-card effort this team was hoping for.
Final grade: D
Teacher's notes: Celtics coach Doc Rivers wrestled with the decision to give away locker room leader Jason Collins as part of the deal for Crawford (but had to after Chris Wilcox vetoed another potential swap). While -- outside of the Game 5 skirmish -- Crawford rarely rocked the boat, he didn't have many memorable moments in 32 total appearances. According to Synergy Sports data, Crawford allowed 0.902 points per play defensively, ranking in the 30th percentile among all league players. His offensive numbers weren't much better (0.86 points per play, 37th percentile). The Celtics' offense was a bucket better per 100 possessions with Crawford, but two points worse defensively. All in all, Crawford simply didn't leave his mark in Boston
What's next?: The Wizards previously picked up a team option on Crawford, which means he is on the books for $2.2 million next season (and a $3.2 million qualifying offer looms after that). The Celtics will bring Crawford back at reasonable money or use him as a trade asset (either by himself or in a package). Crawford got thrown into the mix late in the season and a fresh start with the team could aid his production, but with guard depth stocked if Rondo can come back healthy, Crawford needs to find a way to be an efficient scorer in less minutes than he saw in Washington.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Crawford's 2012-13 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
But the increase in time for Crawford meant fewer minutes for Courtney Lee, who played over 20 minutes in Game 1, but just four minutes in Game 2, checking in late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.
Rivers was asked Wednesday about his preference of Crawford over Lee, and he said he simply thinks Crawford is playing better than Lee right now.
"Yeah, it's not that deep," Rivers said. "I just think right now (Crawford is) is (playing better) and I think offensively he gives you a better shot at it. Courtney, defensively, is better, so it really depends on -- with us, because of the injuries we have at the guard spots, it really depends on the matchups for us, whether Jordan, in certain spots, or Courtney, will play. And that's just the way it's going to be."
Lee had been a part of Rivers' rotation for virtually all of the regular season, but he suffered a left ankle sprain late in March and missed three consecutive games. Rivers noted that during Lee's brief absence and in the games he spent trying to re-establish a rhythm, Jeff Green and Crawford both played well and earned greater consideration for postseason minutes.
Following Tuesday's loss, Lee downplayed the rotation talk, saying that he was frustrated only because the team lost, and not because he suffered a dip in minutes.
"Because we lost (my frustration level is) high," Lee said. "But, because of the rotation, that doesn't bother me. If we had won, it'd have been a good thing. But, it doesn't bother me at all. Like I said, because we lost everybody's frustration level is up."
Rivers said he discussed playing time with Lee, telling him "there's a competition for minutes," and reiterated that everyone needs to be ready to play when their name is called, regardless of how long they might be on the floor.
"In the playoffs, you've got to be ready when you're ready and when you're called," Rivers said. "You can't have any excuses or anything like that. Every team shortens the bench, guys play more minutes, some guys play less. The starters play more, everybody else plays less. You've just got to be bought into the team and if you get called for a minute you have to be ready, or 20 minutes you have to be ready. That's what winning teams do."
Rivers acknowledged Lee's advantage over Crawford on defense, and, because of that, it's still possible Lee could see a renewed uptick in minutes during certain points of this series. And that's what Lee is focusing on, noting after Tuesday's loss that he'll remain ready in the event Rivers does decide to utilize him again.
"You've just got to be ready if he does call your name," Lee said. "That's how I go into every game. That's how I'm going to approach the next one."
NEW YORK -- Celtics guard Jordan Crawford did two things for the first time in his career in the opening game of Boston's first-round playoff series with the New York Knicks Saturday: He played in the postseason and he played more than 10 minutes without taking a single field goal.
Crawford's attempt-less final line stood out more, as he doesn't usually hesitate to fire away at the rim. But he shouldn't be in for a repeat performance in Tuesday's Game 2, at least if Celtics head coach Doc Rivers can stick to his planned adjustments. After Saturday's 85-78 loss, and in the days since, Rivers has highlighted Crawford as someone he wants to play more, not only for his pure scoring ability, but for his capabilities as a playmaker.
"I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half," Rivers said. "It’s funny, he didn’t score, but he created baskets. He created that 3 at the end of the (first quarter) because he has the ability to do that. And, I’ll tell you, he’s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us."
When the Celtics first acquired Crawford from the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline in February, they did so knowing he had the potential to swing games in their favor, through his confidence in his offensive game and his ability to knock down shots from virtually any spot on the floor. He said Monday that doing so requires playing the way he has his whole career.
"Play my game, the game I continue to play that got me here that Doc Rivers wants me to play," Crawford said. "So I'm just trying to help them win any way...Just be precise, don't second guess nothing, be precise. Whatever you think to do, do it quick. If you make a mistake, do it hard."
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