Nobody can dispute the raw talent Boston Celtics guard Jordan Crawford brings to the table. A spectacularly gifted scorer, originally known for dunking on LeBron James during his college years at Xavier, Crawford was one of the more exciting acquisitions by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge this calendar year.
But he will never be a fit in Celtics green.
Crawford may be able to score with the elite talent of the NBA on just about any defender, but far too often, he simply opts against any semblance of a team game. One-on-one isolation plays from a 6'4”, 195-pound guard with trigger-happy judgment and inconsistent handle can hurt a team as much as it helps.
Anyone who thinks Crawford has served as a key contributor to the Celtics' playoff run has paid little to no attention. In his 20-minute average since joining Boston via the February trade involving Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins, he has averaged eight points on 39 percent shooting (30 percent from three), as well as 2.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds.
Crawford's 1.57 assist-to-turnover ratio for the 2012-13 season ranks among the worst in the entire league, never mind guards. And such numbers have only worsened for him as a member of the Celtics. He only averages 0.6 assists per turnover in Boston.
It almost appears that he refuses to pass because he fears he will turn the ball over. Thus, he pulls up for contested jumpers off wild spin moves instead.
Similarly, his defense has been atrocious. Never mind the terrible numbers—0.4 steals and 0.1 blocks a game—this guy just cannot stay in front of anybody. For a quick player, he seems to have very poor footwork.
And his instincts just seem nonexistent most of the time. He needs to compensate for his deficiencies in size and aptitude by hustling more. Coach Doc Rivers would certainly take improved effort from Crawford over continued defensive indifference.
But selfishness, inefficiency, sloppiness and abysmal defense might not even fully cover the main reason he will never fit in with Boston. He is playing in Rajon Rondo's house, and Rondo hates dudes like Crawford.
Known for being a bit enigmatic, the 24-year-old Crawford averaged 14.5 points in 133 games (62 starts) in three scattered years in Washington, before his minutes began to decrease. He took issue with Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and even ended up slouching, yawning and pouting on the Wizards' sideline in the days leading up to the trade.
Rondo would punch one of his fellow guards before allowing such behavior. Sure, Crawford got a bum deal in D.C., but it can be argued that his questionable shot selection hurt his team more than he helped it.
He has shown signs of maturity the past couple of months, staying in line and saying he loves “learning from the best," but don't expect that to last. His me-against-the-world mentality will surely clash with Rondo once the star floor general returns from his ACL injury, providing an even uglier form of entertainment than a Crawford clang from 25 feet.
Crawford will once again fade to relative obscurity, just as he did once John Wall regained full health in Washington. A dangerous “instant offense” candidate could not cut it for the 29th-worst shooting offense in the league. Therefore, he definitely has no place in a team-oriented offensive system down the line.
Some thought Crawford would allow Ainge to deal starting 2-guard Courtney Lee this summer, shopping his $5.2 million 2013-14 contract. But that would remove a valuable cog on both sides of the floor for this squad—and employ two undersized guards off the bench, both sporting shoot-first, play-defense-never mindsets.
Crawford's scoring has been impressive at times, especially given the minimal price Boston paid to acquire him (Barbosa was injured; Collins was terrible). But many question marks remain regarding his short- and long-term role with the C's.
Maybe Crawford will prove doubters like yours truly wrong and will continue trying to work on his passing game. Maybe he'll stop gunning down the floor, lowering his head with reckless disregard for turnovers. Maybe he will try to make a stop every once in a while and act like he gets paid to play on both ends of the court.
Crazier things have happened. Remember, Dennis Rodman is an international diplomat now.