2013-2014 Clippers Exit Interviews: Jamal Crawford

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As we try to do every season here at Clips Nation, we're running a series of "exit interviews" of this year's Los Angeles Clippers. An overview and analysis, player by player, of all 14 Clippers who finished the 2013-2014 season on the roster. In this edition: 6th man of the year Jamal Crawford.

Vitals

Name: Jamal Crawford
2013-2014 Key Stats: 18.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.3 RPG, 41.6% FG, 36.1% 3PT, 86.6% FT
Age: 34
Years in the NBA: 14
Years with the Clippers: 2
2013-2014 Salary: $5,225,000
Contract Status: Two years remaining; $5,450,000 in 2014-2015, $5,675,000 in 2015-2016. $1,500,000 guaranteed each year.

In a Nutshell

Jamal Crawford is a very good basketball player. At the outset of the year, one of the bigger question marks about how the addition of superb coach Doc Rivers would affect such a freeflowing player like Crawford after he thrived playing under the comparatively simple Vinny Del Negro. Some further questions about Crawford's role came up when the team finally added a true shooting guard to take the starting 2 position in sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Any concerns were answered quickly, as Crawford had one of the best offensive seasons of his career and was a constant lifeline to a Clipper backcourt that was decimated by injury all season. Crawford broke his own Clipper record set last year for three pointers made in a season. He scored 22.0 PPG Per 36 Minutes, the highest of his career. He continued to be the scorer we all know and love (and sometimes hate) while leaving a bit to be desired on the defensive end. All in all, Jamal had a very good year for the kind of player he's been his entire career, and he very much deserved his 6th man of the year recognition.

Strengths

Crawford can flat out score. The bench this year never quite felt solidified and went through many stages with many different pieces, but when Crawford came off of it, he gave a very reliable scoring punch. Crawford scored 18.6 PPG, his most as a sub, and shot the ball more times on average than he ever has as a sub. Some of those stats though are buoyed by the substantial time Crawford spent as a fill-in starter, as he played 24 games as a starter and scored 21.1 PPG during that stretch. Despite a bit of a shooting drop as a starter, Crawford spent a good deal of those 24 games as the second option behind a blossoming Blake Griffin, and was absolutely crucial in keeping the team not only above water but playing exceptionally well with Chris Paul injured. Crawford did whatever the team asked him to do to the best of his ability and has seemed like a consummate professional ever since he's been in Los Angeles.

Weaknesses

While Crawford did do whatever the team asked him to do, there were things he sometimes couldn't do that the team struggled working around. Crawford has never been known as a great defender.. I remember reading a joke on Twitter that the only time Crawford got into a defensive stance was after attempting to will a three into the basket after releasing it. It's not quite that bad, and as has been said before, Crawford's defense probably gets bashed more than it should, but with J.J. Redick's arrival, there seemed to be a healthy alternative on the bench that would provide some solid team defense without killing the offense (unless Redick was cold that night, which happened). It was a bit of a juggling act between Crawford and Redick this season, but Redick's defensive instincts often seemed on point when he wasn't recovering from his myriad of injuries. Aside from the defense, Crawford's offense could become a point of concern as well. While his one-on-one antics are dazzling, they would sometimes ice the rest of the team and Crawford too frequently would be caught taking very difficult shots that he could make but wasn't necessarily the way to go on a team loaded with offensive options. Few Clipper fans will forget the iso ball played to end game 5, and some of that fell on Crawford's shoulders. While Crawford made possibly the biggest shot of the postseason with game 4's go ahead three, no miss feels quite as painful as Crawford's missed layup with the Clippers up 4 in the final minute in game 5. (Made more painful by the events that followed) But you live by Craw, you die by Craw. Just months earlier Crawford hit a myriad of tough shots in Oklahoma City to bury the Thunder.

Future with the Clippers

Many Clipper fans started the season thinking of Crawford as an interesting trade asset in a position of strength. After a banner year, many fans have appreciated Crawford more, but in reality things haven't changed so much, and the positions of weakness seem even more glaring. With news of Darren Collison opting out, Crawford becomes a bit more valuable due to his ball-handling, but that could change with a very deep point guard pool leaving some potential quality point guards around to pick up those minutes to relieve Paul and possibly even continue playing alongside Paul at times like Doc liked doing with Collison. Crawford has a very affordable contract and provides an offensive punch most teams would love to have. His value after winning 6th man of the year is as high as it can get at this point. Crawford may be even more valuable in 2015-2016 as an expiring contract but he'll get calls for what he brings to the table today, too. Crawford is guaranteed only 1.5 million dollars per season for the next 2 years, but the idea of waiving him while he's so productive would be a stretch, and assuming he maintains a similar level of play, I can't see the team doing it in 2015-2016, either. Many fans have become very attached to Crawford, whether it be for his brilliance on the court or because you've seen his "Before the Bigs" one time too many.. But it's not beyond imagination to look hard into what he can get, particularly in the realm of a quality starting SF. It's of course possible that no deal manifests again and Crawford stays a Clipper, and that's fine. Because the guy is a very good basketball player. And I'd love for him to keep helping the Clips reach new heights.

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