Inside The Warriors: Meet Jordan Crawford
After scavenging the league for backup point guards, the Golden State Warriors ended up shipping Toney Douglas out of town and addressed the issue by adding Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks. Whether or not Crawford can be a solid backup for Stephen Curry remains to be seen, but there was certainly nothing wrong with the deal. The Warriors gave up Douglas who, let’s be honest, wasn’t getting the job done, and some of their trade exception. Although the reward in return might have a firm ceiling on it, it’s a low-risk gamble as both Crawford (who enters restricted free agency this upcoming summer) and Brooks can be let go at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Whether or not Golden State makes another move down the road remains to be seen, but until then let’s evaluate the two newest additions to the roster.
Crawford is clearly the guy the Warriors were after when seeking this trade and the intention is to slide him in behind Curry. Steph’s health has always been one of the biggest factors for Golden State and the hope is that the addition of Crawford will allow Mark Jackson to cut down a little on the 37.8 minutes per game he is playing now.
Since Jackson has mostly avoided putting Iguodala at the point when Curry is resting, the offense generally collapses when the bench mob takes over. Jackson often starts second quarters without a single starter in the lineup and without anyone truly capable of running an offense. Crawford could help with that.
If you’ve watched him play basketball, you’ll know that Crawford doesn’t lack confidence. In fact, if we ranked NBA players in the order of irrational confidence, Crawford’s name would sneak up somewhere among the top dogs. Rookie head coach of the Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, allowed Crawford to run the team in the absence of Rajon Rondo and despite not really being known for creating shots for others, Crawford is putting up a career-high 5.7 assists per game. Take a look at some on/off stats for the Celtics this season (via NBAwowy).
Boston Celtics with Crawford ON the floor: 1.04 PPP, 52.3 TS%, 44.2 FG%
Boston Celtics with Crawford OFF the floor: 0.98 PPP, 50.2 TS%, 43.8 FG%
The Celtics’ offense scores more points per play and shoots better overall when Crawford is on the floor, but the stats can be a little misleading. Boston is going all in on the tanking this season and if you look across the roster, Crawford was pretty much the only viable ball handler. An interesting stat: when Crawford is on the floor 51.7% of all made field goals are assisted. When he is off the floor that number is bumped up to 56.8%. This would suggest that the ball movement actually improves when Crawford sits. It could be in large part because of possessions such as this:
In the above clip, a grand total of one Celtics player touches the ball. Toronto Raptors switch on the Crawford-Bass pick-and-roll and Rudy Gay (yes, Gay was still a Raptor at this point) stops Crawford’s drive. On his way back to the perimeter, Crawford actually sees an open Bass, who is a good mid-range shooter, but he brings the ball back to the perimeter and runs another pick-and-roll with Kris Humphries. Humphries slips the pick and Crawford could actually pass the ball to him over the top, but instead he opts to pull up for the three several steps behind the three-point line.
Yes, Crawford made the shot, but let’s not fool ourselves — it’s not an efficient look. He is shooting just over 30% from three over his career and his shot selection is not the best, which is reflected by his 41.3 FG% this season. He might be more team-oriented than he was previously, but old habits remain and Warriors fans will likely see Crawford put up at least a couple of ill-advised jumpers every game.
Crawford might take a lot of bad shots, but there are spots on the floor where he is very efficient. Take a look at his shot chart:
He isn’t a great finisher in the restricted area, but he does have some crafty moves off the dribble, which help him in creating enough space for a jumper or a floater in the paint. Here are a couple of examples.
The first example displays Crawford’s biggest offensive attribute — his quickness. Once his teammates set a pick, the opponents often have to switch because Crawford attacks as soon as the screen is set. In the first clip, Timofey Mozgov switches onto him and Crawford can easily beat the big man, but Darrell Arthur comes over to help. This leaves Humphries open below the basket, but Crawford decides to pull up for a little floater instead.
As you can see in the screen shot, Crawford does have a teammate open under the basket and before he pulls up there is a little window for a bounce pass into the paint, but this is the type of shot Crawford has been taking and making at a pretty efficient rate this year.
The second clip is another great example how Crawford creates looks for himself. He uses a quick first step then a behind the back dribble to get Kirk Hinrich off-balance and then steps back for an uncontested jumper in his sweet spot. In the third clip he once again gets to that spot, knocks down the shot and gets fouled. It is worth noting, however, that as he is turning around he could have found an open Jeff Green in the corner.
What is evident in the three clips above is that Crawford has the tools to break down a defense, either going one-on-one or running the pick-and-roll. When he does that, help inevitably has to come, which gives Crawford an opportunity to find open teammates. He doesn’t always find the right pass, but he can compromise defenses and force his opponents to make concessions, one way or another.
Crawford comes to Golden State with some frustrating attributes, but he also brings a potential spark to the lowest-scoring bench in the league. He probably won’t find his way into many lineups where he has to share the floor with any of the starters, but it will be very interesting to see how he fits in with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Crawford, Green and Barnes could potentially create a relatively dynamic lineup and run a pick-and-roll heavy offense.
When Brooks was a rookie I was actually quite excited about him. He played 29.4 minutes per game in his first year in the league and showed some upside. It’s gone downhill since then and I’m not sure whether Golden State is the right place for him to get his career back on track. He is another guard who can create a shot for himself, but most of his looks are jumpers and he’s not a great three-point shooter nor a defender. If he couldn’t crack the Celtics’ rotation, I doubt he’ll see the floor much as a Warrior.
All in all, this is a decent trade for the Warriors. They didn’t give up any of their valuable pieces and improved their bench. If nothing else, watching the bench mob operate will be a whole lot more entertaining with Crawford at the helm.