Jae Crowder might have been picked in the second round, but thanks to his unique skill set, the former Marquette Golden Eagle will turn out to be a steal for the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite slipping into the second round, Crowder still has the potential to be a high-energy, impactful player with the Mavs.
Crowder was the Big East Player of the Year last season when he averaged 17.5 points a game and 8.4 rebounds. These numbers would be impressive anywhere, but Crowder excelled in the Big East, a conference that is often considered the toughest in America.
He compiled much of his production at the power forward spot, where he compensated for his 6’6” frame with dogged effort on the boards and purposeful technique.
But, Crowder also showed an innate ability to step outside and knock down mid-range jumpers. He wasn’t without touch from the three-point line either, where he shot 35 percent his senior season.
At the NBA level, Crowder will have a tough time playing the 4 because of his lack of height, but his energy and talents around the basket should serve him well at the small forward slot.
There he will backup Shawn Marion, a player whose skill set almost mirrors Crowder’s. Each are above average rebounders for their size, handle the ball well, excel in scoring from the post and are surprisingly good shooters from range. They are also very similar defensively: Both are flexible enough to guard multiple positions and give maximum effort on the less flashy end of the court.
However, perhaps it’s Crowder’s ability to slash and push the ball in transition where he compares most favorably to Marion.
Crowder just has a unique ability to attack the basket, using the rim and the glass to offset his size disadvantage down low.
That type of skill and energy is exactly what the Mavericks missed last season. The team was sluggish in transition, and often went at a slow pace in the half court, forcing an aging squad to throw up lots of jumpers.
Jump shots are great if you convert, but there was a reason the Mavericks were only 19th in the NBA in points a game—they just didn’t make enough shots.
Crowder should help alleviate some of that. He’s a guy who will come off the bench and provide an instant spark. He won’t ever light it up on the offensive end, but he’ll be a guy who manages to put up 10 points a game the ugly way: rebounds, putbacks and layups.
Expect the former Golden Eagle to have a similar season to a breakout star from last year’s rookie class, Denver’s Kenneth Faried.
Faried was a little know player from Morehead State when he was selected late in the first round by the Nuggets. But thanks to his high-intensity playing style, he quickly established himself as a top of the rotation guy for the Nuggets. Faried averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds as a rookie, making a splash with aggressiveness and signature dreads.
Crowder has the same skills, makeup, tenacity and, of course, the braids.
His rookie season should compare well to Faried’s in Denver. And if that happens, he’ll start garnering recognition as the steal of the draft.