Should Jamal Crawford Start or Play 6th Man for Portland Trail Blazers?

Kristian Winfield@@KrisWinfield_Correspondent IIIDecember 19, 2011

ATLANTA - APRIL 20:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Milwaukee Bucks at Philips Arena on April 20, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the recent signing of perennial Sixth Man of the Year contender Jamal Crawford, the Portland Trail Blazers have found themselves in a logjam of sorts in the backcourt.

Crawford, now approaching his 13th season in the NBA, just came off the worst statistical year he's had since 2004. Coming off the bench behind Joe Johnson—who also had a forgettable season—he averaged a menial 14.2 points and 3.2 assists in just over 30 minutes per game for the Atlanta Hawks.

To put things into perspective, he averaged just under 18 points and 4.3 assists over the seven seasons prior.

But fortunately for him, that one season wasn't defining. One of the deadliest scorers in the NBA, Crawford is a feared three-point shooter and a crafty scorer who uses flashy handles to lull defenders to sleep. He's instant offense whether he starts or comes off of the bench.

Wesley Matthews, however, is a 25-year-old guard on the up-and-up and is on pace to have a breakout season with Brandon Roy's retirement.

While Roy was sidelined with injuries last season, Matthews more than stepped up to the plate, averaging 15.9 points and shooting 40.7 percent from downtown. He also brought a 6'5," 220-pound frame with a strong upper body and energetic feet that allowed him to be a nuisance on the defensive end.

So who gets the start?

While Matthews is an incredible set shooter and a lively defender, his weakness is the in-between game—the area where Crawford excels most. Crawford can create for himself, using those shifty handles to create space for a jump shot, but can also be a liability on defense—one of the areas that the Portland Trail Blazers pride themselves on.

In addition to his scoring ability, Crawford is also an underrated passer, allowing him to run either the point or the 2 effectively.

But in the end, it's defense that truly matters. This is why Aaron Afflalo started over J.R. Smith and Thabo Sefolosha over James Harden. Matthews will start, but Crawford will still get his minutes, subbing in at the point for Raymond Felton as well.

Who do you think should start? Matthews or Crawford?