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2016 Clippers Player Preview: Jamal Crawford

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The NBA’s most youthful elder statesman will play a leading role in the Clippers’ bench scene once again in 2016-17.

Los Angeles Clippers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Name: Aaron Jamal Crawford

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 195 lbs.

Age: 36

Position: Shooting guard

Experience: Entering his 17th NBA season, fifth with Clippers

Key stats: 14.2 PTS, 40.4% FG, 34.0% 3P, 90.4% FT, 2.3 AST, 1.8 REB

Contract status: Signed a three-year deal worth $42 million in July. Third season (2018-19) partially guaranteed.

Breakdown: The Clippers’ Bucket-Getter-In-Chief took home his third Sixth Man of the Year trophy in 2015-16 after ranking fifth in the league in scoring average among players that came off the bench for at least half of his team’s games. Crawford draws more than his fair share of ire from fans for constantly hijacking possessions that result in not-so-good shots, but he’s made a fine career out of his streetball style. He surely won that award based primarily off of his reputation and because there weren’t many other great options last season, but he was still a vital cog to the Clips’ cause.

The degree of difficulty on so many of his shots have led to some shooting percentages that don’t do justice to how lethal a marksman he can be. When his feet are set, Crawford is deadly. Last season Jamal converted an excellent 39.1 percent of his spot-up triple tries, good for third on the club among qualified players behind, you guessed it, J.J. Redick and Chris Paul. On three-pointers that came after as few as one dribble, though? Crawford shot worse than 29 percent. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a human not named Stephen Curry that actually excels on shots like those, though that doesn’t stop Crawford from trying more of them than he should.

Jamal took more shots after 3-to-6 dribbles than he did spot-ups last season. His percentage of makes wasn’t awful (41.4 percent) all things considered, but it might be nice if he would cut down on them. The odds of Jamal ever reigning it in are slim, of course, because he is who he is.

Nevertheless, he drilled 40 percent of shots that NBA.com considered to come against “very tight” coverage, while somehow not shooting better than 36 percent on attempts without a defender draped all over him. There’s really no way of explaining how he does this. So, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

There’s a decent chance Jackson Pollock whipped up Crawford’s shot chart from last year:

There isn’t a lot of consistency here, just a bunch of different colors splashed over all areas of the floor. He’s great from the corners and from the top of the arc, and for some reason seems to have that left elbow jumper down pat.

55.5 percent of Crawford’s looks came either from long range or right at the cup, which doesn’t exactly make Daryl Morey nod in approval, but he’s not overly midrange-dependent, either. Converting nearly 56 percent of his chances at the rim is passable, especially considering he has the approximate physical profile of a broomstick.

The main problem with Jamal’s inefficient offensive ways is that scoring is just about the only thing he can give you when he’s out there. When he’s not hitting shots there really isn’t much reason to have him on the floor at all. To say he’s a matador on defense might actually be a compliment. He’s a talented passer, but facilitating for others isn’t something he’s often tasked with doing.

Outlook for 2016-17: Crawford still figures to be the offensive focal point of the reserve unit, though here’s hoping some of the roster finagling Doc Rivers orchestrated over the summer will work to take some of the weight off of Jamal’s shoulders. Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton are each more offensive-minded than Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni were, so it would make sense that they will take a few shots away from Crawford.

He’s likely to feature prominently in Doc’s favored three-guard lineups at shooting guard alongside Felton and Austin Rivers. As he did last season, Crawford is also sure to see a good amount of time alongside the core four, particularly when opposing teams go small and the Clippers can hide him defensively. Playing off-ball alongside Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul and Redick should generate the best spot-up opportunities for Jamal, where we know he’s most effective. Starting him at the three would leave L.A. super undersized on the wings, which is why this five will likely be deployed situationally.

Even with the new reinforcements, the Clipper bench will go as Crawford goes, as it has for most of his tenure with the club. Streaky as he may be, he’s still very much capable of taking over a game and closing a late deficit nearly single-handedly. Jamal can also wildly shoot you right out of a game, of course, but he has the trust of the head coach and license to fire away more often than not. Sure, he’s 36 now, but a younger 36-year-old doesn’t exist anywhere else in the league. For better or worse, the Clippers know what they’re getting from Jamal Crawford.

Stats courtesy of NBA.com/stats.