Jae Crowder proving Mark Cuban's computer right

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
8:00
AM CT
LOS ANGELES -- A sure sign that things are going well for Jae Crowder: Mark Cuban is trying to claim the credit for the second-round pick.

[+] EnlargeJae Crowder
Glenn James/Getty ImagesRookie Jae Crowder averaged 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Mavs in the preseason.
Asked when he first suspected the Mavs might have a second-round steal on their hands, Cuban said, “When I was trying to convince everybody in the draft room that we should draft him.”

Crowder, whom the Mavs selected with the 34th overall pick, isn’t the kind of player who impresses NBA scouts. He’s undersized for a forward, measuring a touch under 6-foot-5 without shoes, and doesn’t possess awe-inspiring athleticism. Not to mention he played four seasons of college basketball, which is almost unheard of for NBA prospects these days.

But last season’s Big East Player of the Year for Marquette caught the eyes of computer geeks such as Cuban, who uses a variety of advanced statistical formulas as a tool in player evaluation. Some of those formulas considered Crowder a top-three player in his draft class; others put him among the top 20.

The consensus of the computer stats was that Crowder would be a great value early in the second round, even if his measurables didn’t match up with other players in the draft.

“There was a lot of geeky stuff that stood out about him,” Cuban said. “As a second-round pick, it was worth the chance.”

Crowder, who could be in the starting lineup when the Mavs open the season against the Los Angeles Lakers, looks like a great value now. He was the one real bright spot of the Mavs’ preseason, stuffing box scores with averages of 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.6 assists and 0.8 blocks in 22 minutes per game.

The spreadsheets showed what a well-rounded player Crowder was. The film showed that he was the kind of guy Mavs coach Rick Carlisle loved: a tough, gritty dude who played with the sort of disposition that the Mavs’ coach constantly discusses.

“You love guys who just do everything hard,” Carlisle said. “They force opponents to play on every possession. He’s one of those guys. We view him as a guy we’re lucky to get in the second round.

“Right now, he’s an important part of what we do.”

Right now, Crowder is probably a starter, at least until Dirk Nowitzki returns from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Which position he plays depends on your perspective ... or perhaps the possession.

“I play everything but point guard,” said Crowder, who has a muscular 235-pound frame and a nice mid-range game with shooting range that seems to expand by the week. “I’m a basketball player.”

Crowder gets why he slipped into the second round. He understands that the draft is based purely on potential.

He just believes that the majority of NBA GMs misjudged him. Crowder has a burning desire to prove that point, believing that he’ll emerge as an elite defensive player and a dangerous scorer.

Crowder has a lot of confidence in his skills -- which he is certain will improve due to his work ethic -- but he boasts that his best asset is an intangible. He believes that he has a stronger will than the vast majority of NBA players.

They measure a lot of things at the NBA scouting combine: height, wingspan, vertical leap, speed, agility, etc. Willpower isn’t one of them.

“That only shows on game day,” Crowder said, cracking a smile.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Galloway & Company: Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Mark Cuban talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: The Standoff

Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ramona Shelburne

ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Buy or sell

Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Marc Stein

ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Dalembert 6.8
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.2