Name: Jamal Crawford
2012-2013 Key Stats: 16.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.0 spg
Years in NBA: 13
Years With Clippers: 1
2012-2013 Salary: $5,225,000
Contract Status: Signed Through 2015/2016, contract only partially guaranteed beyond 2013-2014.
In A Nutshell:
Former 6th Man of the year winner Jamal Crawford had a bit of a reputation in the NBA. That reputation: a talented chucker who can shoot you in or out of a game and doesn't care much for defense. He managed to shake a bit of that reputation in Atlanta, where he won a well deserved 6th man of the year award. But whatever good will he earned in that award winning season went out the window after a rough season in Portland in 2012. Looking for some scoring punch off the bench, the Clippers' front office took a chance by signing Crawford, and boy did it ever pay off. Jamal proved that in a healthy environment with a clearly defined role (and one in which he is not forced to play a bulk of minutes at point guard), he is still a fantastic scorer and playmaker. In his first season in Los Angeles, Jamal did everything that was asked of him, coming off the bench to lead the second unit, scoring just under 17 points a game while setting a franchise record for 3 point baskets made at an efficient 37.6% from beyond the arc. The Clipper offense would not have been what it was without him. An absolutely integral part of the Clippers success in 2013.
Jamal greatest strength is his ability to create for himself, and boy can he ever do that. Never bashful, Jamal consistently takes and makes a number of difficult shots, but also has an ability to get to the rim and finish as well as create for others off the dribble. His ability to score with Paul and Griffin on the bench allowed coach Del Negro to play his second unit for long stretches all season with great success. When he was in with Griffin and Paul, he was effective as a spot up shooter/floor spreader. This versatility is what really made Crawford stand out this season. He is an elite free throw shooter,and supremely confident to take and make big shots. He also has arguably the best crossover dribble in the league, if you're into that sort of thing.
Weakness: The knock on Jamal Crawford is his defense. Jamal is not a great defender, but he is probably not quite as bad as he is made out to be either. He has long arms and gets his hands on a lot of balls, but he is also pretty frail and as a result can struggle against stronger wing players. Playing with a pretty good defensive second unit this season, Jamal's defense was not really much of a problem for the Clippers. Offensively, some might consider his willingness to force shots a weakness, but its really what makes him special.
Future with the Clippers:
Jamal came into camp with the Clippers this season as a player with something to prove, and it really paid off. Many thought he deserved the 6th man of the year award (for those of you in the JR Smith camp, Crawford's 4th quarter and clutch scoring stats were superior, and you could argue he was a more consistent scorer all season, versus JR Smith who caught fire late in the year). The Clippers will need more of the same coming into next season. Crawford just turned 33 in March, but if 2013 is any indication, he appears to have a couple of effective seasons left in the tank. His already more than reasonable contract is only partially guaranteed after the coming season, giving the Clippers flexibility moving forward.
Make no mistake, the Clippers would have really struggled without Jamal Crawford this year, and there is no reason to think he wont be a major contributor again in 2014. Look for Crawford to return for at least one more season with the Clippers.