Thus far in 2012-13, the Los Angeles Clippers have rushed out to their best start in franchise history. At 31-9, the Clippers are merely a half-game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA.
Admittedly, it will be difficult to find Crawford's place on the All-Star Game roster. The likes of James Harden and Russell Westbrook appear to be locks, while Tony Parker is a favorite for a third backcourt spot.
With that being said, it would be criminal if we failed to recognize Crawford's play with his first career All-Star appearance.
Crawford is a front-runner for the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. It would be his second time winning the honor since 2010.
Unfortunately, sixth men rarely make All-Star Game appearances.
Fortunately, Crawford's efforts are not going unnoticed. Both Charles Barkley and Chris Webber made their voice heard as they stated their respective belief that he should be a member of the 2013 All-Star squad.
The praise is not limited to the analysts. In fact, one individual that was named an All-Star starter is petitioning on Crawford's behalf.
Three-time All-Star power forward and teammate Blake Griffin.
Head coach Vinny Del Negro echoed those sentiments.
Both could be right.
Not only is Crawford one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA, but he's respected by coaches everywhere. It is that notion that improves his odds of reaching the All-Star Game.
Just don't think that his reputation tells the entire tale.
Driving Force, Part I: Offense
Through 40 games, the Los Angeles Clippers rank seventh in the NBA in scoring offense. A major reason for this level of offensive efficiency is the two-headed monster of All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
With that being said, we'd be remiss to ignore an equal contributor: Jamal Crawford.
By the numbers, Crawford is averaging 16.7 points in 29.2 minutes of game action. For those who believe those are not All-Star-caliber numbers, the following should alter your opinion.
The Clippers are 19-4 when Crawford scores at least 15 points. The Clippers are averaging 104.3 points during those 23 games.
When Crawford fails to score 15, the Clippers are 10-5 and average 96.5 points per game.
Chris Paul may facilitate this offense, but Crawford takes it to another level. The numbers don't lie about that.
Driving Force, Part II: Second Unit
The Los Angeles Clippers' greatest strength is their limitless depth. Specifically speaking, it is their overwhelmingly powerful and well-rounded second unit.
Leading that charge is, once again, Jamal Crawford.
For the season, Crawford is averaging 16.7 points in just 29.2 minutes per game. J-Crossover is doing so on 37.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Those account for his highest scoring and three-point shooting marks since winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010.
As a unit, the Clippers rank second in the NBA at 41.7 bench points per game. They rank first in overall efficiency and defensive efficiency.
The key to it all is Crawford.
The Clippers have an extraordinarily strong second unit from a defensive perspective. The fact of the matter is no individual specializes in offensive production but Crawford.
Even still, they're second in the league in bench scoring. Do we really need to spell this out any further?
When Jamal Crawford is on the floor, the Los Angeles Clippers have an average plus/minus of plus-11.4 per 48 minutes. In that time, they're averaging 102.6 points scored and 91.2 points allowed.
Those numbers dip to 100.2 points for and 94.6 points against per 48 minutes when Crawford is on the bench.
No one is going to deny that the Clippers are elite with or without any individual in their rotation. They've constructed their roster in a manner that enables them to absorb and overcome any injury or absence.
However, Crawford is pushing the Clippers from elite to a legitimate championship contender.
His numbers may not be as flashy of those of his All-Star-contending counterparts, but he is contributing on a team with unparalleled depth. To provide such an extraordinary impact with such limited opportunities can be described in three words.
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