Jamal Crawford's NBA career can be likened to that of a person looking in the mirror one day and saying, "What have I been doing all of my life?'. Be it appearance, career, hobby, addiction, family, said person may wonder where would they have been if they tried hard enough, if they had been put in a better situation, etc.
For a player of Crawford's stature, he's always been seen as a guy who's uber-talented, yet has never fulfilled expectations. Whether he's dropping 50 points (only player to do it for four different teams), converting four-point plays (more than any player in NBA history) or breaking ankles time and time again, he always leaves you yearning for more. But there was a revelation for him this year. For the first time in his career, he's worked on his game this past Summer. That is not to say he's not a gym rat. He is. But he's been working on shooting drills, complete with cones, for the first time ever. And not surprisingly, it's paying dividends.
Through nine games, Crawford has averaged a gaudy 20.7 ppg in 28.1 mpg. However, the most impressive part is the efficiency with which he's scoring. Career highs in FG% (.522), 3PT% (.440) and second highest FT% (.917) has his true shooting % through the roof at .683 (fifth in the league). His 25.0 PER is nearly in Chris Paul territory.
Speaking of Chris Paul, Crawford has never had the opportunity to play with a point guard of his caliber. In fact, I'm not sure he's ever played with a backup PG of Eric Bledsoe's caliber. CP3 is the master of finding guys open, particularly for the corner 3, where Crawford excels, and he's been taking advantage of it. He'll still throw up his usual off balance shots every game, but it's normally against the clock and he's hitting them with regularity. Last year, he played with a Portland team that made him play of a lot of point guard and they weren't a run-and-gun team (15th in Pace). This season, he's back at playing his natural SG position and the team is playing at a much faster pace (sixth in league). Crawford excels in transition and has contributed heavily to the Clippers being one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league.
Can he keep this up for the entire season? Well, I expect him to taper off a bit at some time, as not many guards not named Steve Nash can put up those kind of percentages. But I think he will still have a career year in efficiency. And possibly, another 6th man award. More importantly, the Clippers continue to win in dominating fashion and the title contender whispers are getting louder. Both the team and Jamal wouldn't want it any other way.
Ray Allen, latest victim.
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