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2014-2015 Exit Interviews: Jamal Crawford

We continue the 2014-2015 Exit Interviews with the polarizing 6th man star of the Clippers Jamal Crawford.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats
AGE YEARS IN NBA YEARS WITH CLIPPERS 2014-2015 SALARY CONTRACT STATUS
35
15 3 $5,450,000 Crawford's contract for next year of $5,675,000 is non-guaranteed, with only $1.5 million guaranteed

PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% WS/48 PER TS% eFG%
2014-2015 15.8 1.9 1.5 .396 .327 .901 .102 16.6 .532 .467
2014-2015 Playoffs 12.7 2.1 1.9 .360 .243 .867 -.02 9.9 .447 .409
CAREER 15.6 1.4 3.7 .410 .350 .858 .081 15.6 .530 .478

In a Nutshell
Coming off of a year in which he won 6th Man of the Year for the second time of his career, the first to do it with two different teams, by almost all numbers and advanced stats, this season was Jamal Crawford's worst in a Clipper uniform. While he missed substantial time late due to a calf injury, for the majority of the season Jamal had trouble putting the ball in the basket. With the Clippers dealing with a disastrous bench that was constantly evolving as the season progressed, Jamal was continually relied heavily upon by Doc Rivers, often being the only source of offense with the second unit. By putting all of the pressure on Jamal to literally do everything for the reserves to stop the hemorrhaging of points when they were on the floor, Jamal may have succumbed to burden. While he still scored close to his career average in points, he shot the 4th worst percentages from the field and from behind the arc in his career, a scuttling 39.6% and 32.7% respectively. The struggles continued into the playoffs in which Jamal, potentially still dealing with his injury, posted frigid shooting numbers.

While Jamal-Ball was at times frustrating to watch, Crawford still finished 3rd in voting for 6th Man this year and his continued effort must be appreciated. Despite his penchant to chuck up contested jumpers, he still has a knack for making huge shots, as was seen in the first round against the Spurs. While Jamal may have a lot of critics after this season, we would be wise not to lose sight of his worth as a player by continually honing in on his flaws. There are enough sequences of play in which Crawford fits seamlessly into the offense, making you realize how great of an asset he can be, and crazy heat checks in which you're glad he's on your team. While I would definitely consider trading Crawford in order to correct different weaknesses in the roster as written about here, I would also welcome him back into his scoring role next year if the right deal doesn't come around.

Strengths
Jamal's greatest strength is his ability to score off the bench. He is able to come in and with one of the sickest handles in the game, get off his own shot no matter how tight the defensive coverage or diminishing time on the clock. What's even better is that there may be no one better in the association at making those impossible runners and leaning jumpers with defenders draped around you, especially with Grandpa Kobe sidelined. With NBA defenses continually getting smarter, there will always be some value given to a player you can simply hand the ball to and let him boogie down for his own shot. Crawford, the King of the 4-pointer, also has a great skill in cunningly drawing fouls from his defenders. This allows him to go to the line where he is almost automatic, helping to balance out his problematic shot selection. As a catch and shoot player, Crawford is great and really does a lot to help space out the Clippers offense.

While much can be made about his scoring, when he wants to pass Crawford can throw some absolute dimes to players on the break or finding Big Baby in the pick and roll. Crawford also has continually improved on his team and weak side defense under Doc, using his length to help shoot passing lanes and force turnovers. Finally, Jamal is easily the OG leader of the Clippers Seattle based crew, and capable of providing at least a couple ankle-breaking highlights a year.

Weaknesses
As covered a little bit earlier, Crawford scores a lot off the bench, but is extremely inefficient in doing so. Way too often Jamal will hijack the Clippers offense and instead of running the system and looking for different players, he will take his guy one-on-one shooting a contested midrange jumper. This is especially horrible when he's playing in the place of Matt Barnes with the starters, and he's devolving the league's number one offense to take the absolute worst, lowest percentage shot possible in basketball. However, even when Jamal was shooting in the more analytics friendly areas around the rim and behind the arc, he was mediocre at best, and usually below league average. Under 40% from the field and 33% from deep is pretty bad, which makes his playoff numbers of 36% and 24% just completely offensive.

The lack of efficiency as a scorer could be tolerable if Jamal was able to contribute on the defensive end at all. However, Jamal just isn't a good defender. At all. He lets his man go past him like a turnstile far too often, and rarely shuttling him in the right direction toward oncoming help. While he may try more defensively than the Harden from last year, the sad truth is he's just not very good.

Future with the Clippers
Out of all of the Clipper players, Jamal Crawford's future with the Clippers is the most in jeopardy. While he is an important contributor for them off of the bench, because of his reputation and contract, he unfortunately stands as their most valuable trade chip this coming offseason. The Clippers may look to deal Jamal in hopes of landing a starting small forward, as chronicled in a previous piece exploring the reality of trading Jamal.

Regardless of a trade, the Clippers will have to make a decision as to whether or not to bring back Crawford at some point as his contract for next year is non-guaranteed. The Clippers could decide to cut him and only pay him his guaranteed $1.5 million instead of $5,675,000, but that would serve almost no purpose as they are over the cap regardless and would be unable to adequately replace his production. Either expect Jamal to be traded before July 1st, or brought back for next year with the possibility of a trade looming until the deadline passes.

Favorite Moment
They don't call him JCrossover for nothing: