Xavier's Jordan Crawford: What His NBA Future Holds

Ben AikeyCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - MARCH 25: Jordan Crawford #55 of the Xavier Musketeers shoots over Dominique Sutton #23 of the Kansas State Wildcats during the third round of the 2010 NCAA men�s basketball tournament at the Energy Solutions Arena on March 25, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

March Madness has a habit of impacting the draft stock of collegiate players, as a strong performance by an unknown can make him a hot commodity for potential NBA suitors. While he’s not exactly unknown, Jordan Crawford has been overlooked all season because he plays in the Atlantic-10, which isn’t quite considered a power conference yet.

For those that don’t know, let me give you a quick rundown of the past calendar year for Xavier’s superstar guard.

Back in July of last season, a story broke to ESPN about Nike confiscating footage taken of LeBron James being dunked on at a training camp he was attending. The footage still managed to find its way to Youtube, where Jordan Crawford became a viral superstar.

In his second year of eligibility, and first at Xavier, Crawford had a spectacular regular season. Only Marquette held him to single-digit points (he still scored nine against them), as he averaged 20.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. On any given night, Crawford has the potential to dominate his opponent.

You’d expect a guard to be a great shooter, and Crawford is no exception. He hits 46.2 percent of his field goals, 39.1 percent from long range, and 77.3 percent of his free throws.

What I find most impressive, as I’ve stated previously while covering Crawford this season, is his discipline. He went eight games this season without recording a single personal foul, and another seven with only one foul, averaging just 1.6 fouls per game. It shows he knows how to play clean and still put up big numbers, which should be attracting the attention of NBA scouts.

If the ability to stay out of foul trouble doesn’t impress you so much, consider his performance in this year’s NCAA tournament. He dropped 28, 27, and 32 points against Minnesota, Pitt (who knocked Xavier out of the Sweet Sixteen last season), and Kansas State, respectively. As well as he played during the regular season, Crawford thrived against top-notch competition on the grandest scale in the college game.

If he declares for the draft this year, Crawford should be a lock for a late first-round pick. He could easily be a great sixth man until he pays his dues and earns his job as a starter.

So what are a few teams that could make great use of Crawford? The first one to come to mind is the Boston Celtics. Ray Allen’s contract is up after this season, and turning 35 this summer, he’s already on the decline. The Celtics are favoring young players lately (e.g. Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis), and Crawford could step in and make some noise next season.

Another possible destination is Dallas. While Nowitzki and Marion are a quietly dominant pair of forwards, I’m not in love with their situation at the guard position. Sure, Jason Terry is solid, but Jason Kidd is also aging, and in spite of having two years left on his contract after this season, it might be smarter to start a youth movement and bring in a proven perimeter shooter.

If neither of those options play out, why not keep him in-state with the Cavaliers? I really don’t think LeBron James would leave for the Knicks, who still aren’t any good at all, but a little help at the guard position might further entice him to stay.

Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams have shown flashes of greatness, and Delonte West has pending legal troubles. The Cavs need another option, someone to occasionally take the pressure off King James. Jordan Crawford might be the right fit.

Regardless of which team selects him, whether it’s this year or another, I think Crawford will have a long NBA career as a role player. I don’t see him becoming a superstar that a team builds around, but rather a player like Michael Finley or Robert Horry: someone that can contribute equally as a starter or bench player, and he could be the missing piece to a championship team.