After securing Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum with the 10th pick in the first round of this year’s NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers acquired California shooting guard Allen Crabbe via a trade with Cleveland for the first pick in the second round.
Having played three seasons at California, Crabbe is a seasoned scorer and ballplayer. He even earned Pac-12 Player of the Year awards during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Yes, Crabbe has talent evidenced by these honors and his years of college basketball. However, he will need to adjust to the life of professional play in Portland, and in particular develop and flourish in specific ways.
Crabbe needs to remain a strong shooter
First of all, Crabbe needs to bring his stellar shot to Portland. During his final college basketball season, Crabbe averaged an impressive 18.4 points per game along with a field-goal percentage of .459 and a three-point percentage of .348.
With these statistics, Crabbe ranked in the top 10 of categories for scoring, made three-pointers and three-point percentage. Plainly said, the guard can shoot.
Portland will be expecting Crabbe to deliver on the court in terms of scoring, and he will be a huge asset to point guard Damian Lillard when Lillard is looking for a man to get the ball to.
Crabbe needs to be more than a shooter
A talented scorer does not always make an NBA star. Crabbe needs to showcase his talent in other areas—such as rebounding and assisting—in order to really develop and see solid minutes as a Trail Blazer.
For his 2012-13 season with California, the junior shooting guard averaged 6.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. These are promising numbers, and Crabbe will have a great opportunity to improve once he begins playing alongside Lillard.
According to NBCSports.com, Crabbe said of his willingness to improve beyond his scoring: “The scouts look at things that you can’t do, and you just go back and you work on those areas.”
He continued by saying, “So the next time they see you, you can prove that you’re capable of doing the things they said you weren’t capable of.”
Evidently, Crabbe is motivated to develop into more than just a scorer. He will have an opportunity to do so when he begins his career in Portland.
Crabbe needs to fit in—right away
One advantage that Crabbe has is that he will be needed in Portland. Shooting guard Sasha Pavlovic is non-guaranteed this season, leaving only Will Barton and Wesley Matthews to play another year with the Blazers at the shooting guard position.
Drafted in 2012, Barton averaged only 4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.5 steals in 12.2 minutes per game last season with Portland.
Matthews is a bit more impressive. He averaged 14.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 34.8 minutes for 2012-13.
Though Crabbe doesn’t yet have the NBA experience that these other shooting guards do, his college statistics suggest that he will be able to compete with them for minutes. He may also split time with C.J. McCollum if the Blazers slot the Lehigh player into the shooting guard position instead of at point guard.
However, as long as Crabbe brings his shot and his drive to improve to Portland, he should see decent playing time at shooting guard. Time will tell if he can prove himself as a Portland Trail Blazer.