Atlanta Hawks fans have long awaited the potential of playoff bliss and last season was a small sample taste that will forever stick with them for one of many reasons. One of them being Sixth Man of the Year Award winner Jamal Crawford, as he guided the Hawks in the playoffs with the poor play of star Joe Johnson leaving the team with limited options on the perimeter. As Crawford looks for a multi-year extension from the Hawks I will provide my five reasons why he should be extended further.
1. Jamal Crawford has long been a good outside shooter (.382 percent from three last year) and has the ability to heighten the Hawks offense with his creative shot-making and distinctive ball-handling skills, all of which the Hawks lack.
Atlanta improved to ninth overall in the league last year in three-point percentage as a team (.360 percent) and relied heavily on their sixth man of the year to do it, as the were tied for 15th overall in 2008-2009.
2. Crawford has also been able to fill the basket everywhere he has been. Crawford uses a unique blend of crossover moves and isolation plays to get off his shot, another area in which the Hawks lack a potent scorer outside of Joe Johnson. Crawford has the ability to score in a hurry, evident by his fourth-quarter heroics many times last season. Crawford can also get to the line as he broke the record last season for four-point plays as he recorded the 24th of his career—breaking the record held by Reggie Miller.
3. Crawford supplies insurance for the Hawks in the case that Mike Bibby may be moved or if Jeff Teague may not be quite ready to handle the PG job full time. Crawford is also insurance if anything were to happen to Joe Johnson or if Johnson was to have an off-night scoring, Crawford could certainly pick up the slack.
Crawford has proved in his career with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, and Hawks that is he consistent on the court when needed and provides a blend of quality play with the ability to log heavy minutes as well.
4. The Atlanta Hawks ownership would be showing a continued sense of loyalty to their players if they decide to re-sign Jamal Crawford. Loyalty is something in previous offseasons (specifically with Joe Johnson) that the Hawks have been inconsistent with due to financial constraints involving the ownership debacle that plagued the franchise for years.
They first must re-sign Al Horford—that is understandable—but the next person in line should no doubt be Crawford, as there are very few game-changers off the bench in the league. The lack of Crawford's production on the court would leave a huge void in the offense going into next season.
5. Stability on Jamal Crawford's end would be my final reason why he should be extended for another three-year contract. He has shown that he is committed to the Hawks as long as they are committed to him.
Crawford has bounced around the league due to past attitude issues in Chicago and New York, and displeasure in coaching with Golden State. But in Atlanta he has shown a major improvement in professionalism and maturity off the court as well as leadership on the court.
Maturity and leadership were once words that no general manager would use to describe Crawford but now these words are the best way to describe his unique gift to the franchise. There have been many terrible contracts given in the league recently for scoring guards (just ask Detroit with Ben Gordon—five years, $55 million, or Crawford's own Atlanta Hawks—Joe Johnson at six years, $124 million) thus rendering Crawford's asking for a short, reasonable contract a small price to pay for a quality future.