After beating the Boston Celtics last night on the road, the Atlanta Hawks are now 3-0 against the Eastern Conference leading Celtics. With four games left until the halfway mark of the season, the Hawks are 24-13 and just one game back of the Orlando Magic in the Southeast Division.
Jamal Crawford deserves to be on the Eastern Conference All-Star team simply because he has been the Hawks most valuable player up to this point of the 2009-2010 season.
Do not get this column wrong, Joe Johnson is still by far the Hawks' best player, but Crawford has been the driving force behind Atlanta's ascension into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Last year, it was the Big Three in the East and everyone else. The Hawks are dangerously close to crashing that party.
Crawford probably will not get on the All-Star team because he does not have the eye-popping statistics, but as often is the case, the statistics do not tell the whole story for what Crawford has meant to the Hawks and Coach Mike Woodson.
Crawford is averaging more than 16 points per game with almost three assists in only 30 minutes of action. Those numbers are solid, but he only ranks as the 14th best scoring guard in the East; however, when you start breaking down the players ahead of him, Crawford should be an All-Star.
Jamal will not be voted onto the team, but here are three reasons he should be a roster selection after the voting concludes:
1. Crawford plays minutes at both guard positions. He runs the Hawks second unit on most nights and in the fourth quarter he is always on the floor in crunch time. He can play with pg Mike Bibby or he can play the point and run the high screen and roll like he did last night versus the Celtics.
2. Crawford is instant offense off the bench. He definitely is one of the top candidates for NBA Sixth Man of the Year. In the past two years or so, the Hawks have struggled in their half court offense. Crawford has given them a penetrator who will find the open man. Admittedly, he likes to shoot first, but he has been more unselfish this year because he is playing with a winning team.
3. Crawford appears to be so hungry to make the playoffs that his energy is rubbing off on a team that goes through ridiculous and disturbing stretches of poor play. The Hawks looked terrible losing to the Orlando Magic this past weekend. Dwight Howard intimidates the Hawks bigs like no one else in the NBA.
Crawford is hungry to win and he is a dangerous scorer every night. He gives the Hawks a player that can create his own shot on the opposite side of the floor from Super Joe Johnson.
Joe Johnson is going to be an All-Star. The way that the Hawks have played this year the team deserves one other selection. Al "the Boss" Horford has been playing well lately and the mercurial Josh "J-Smoove" Smith played well in November.
Smith seems to be falling back into some bad habits, while Horford still struggles some nights playing the undersized center position. Crawford has been more consistent and had more impact on the team and the Eastern Conference to this point in the season.