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Midseason Roundtable Grades: Jamal Crawford

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The Clippers’ ageless 6th man is as spry as ever. But has his play held up in his fifth season on the team?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Shapan Debnath: C

Incredibly, Jamal Crawford's splits are very familiar to last year, when he was awarded 6th man of the year if almost by default. His recent hot shooting streak has pulled those percentages back up, but the flaws in Jamal's game remain the same. He's still the same guy that ices the rest of the offense and can't keep up on defense. With the emergence of Austin Rivers and strong play of Raymond Felton, Crawford has never felt more superfluous. Jamal's incredible flash makes it seem like no one can get buckets quite like he does, but relying on him in big playoff moments has mostly proven to be a recipe of disaster. At this point, it's almost hard to fault Jamal. He is who he is, and he's done well to pull himself out of a slump. But highlighting him so much often detracts from this team more than we'd like. It's too bad his contract makes him so hard to move, as his style is still easy to become infatuated with on the outside looking in.

Thomas Wood: C+

Maybe it's his three-month swoon. Or maybe it's Austin Rivers' rise. Whatever it is, Jamal feels like more of an unnecessary luxury item than ever. Recent heroics notwithstanding, the stalwart bench scorer has had a subpar season by his standards, which isn't unexpected given that he's now old enough to run for President. His game is as eye-catching as ever, but is attached to more variance. Oh, and he's still owed nearly $30 million.

Robert Flom: C+

It’s not Jamal’s fault that Doc Rivers gave him such a massive deal. His expectations relative to that contract would put this grade far lower, but because I never expected him to live up to that contract anyway, he gets a passing grade from me. On the surface, he is having a virtually identical season to last year— similar shooting percentages, rebounds, steals. But he isn’t. He is scoring two fewer points per game, and is going to the line one less time per game. That means his efficiency is dropping along with his usage, a bad combination. Jamal can still be a deadly scorer when hot, and he has pulled the Clippers to several wins this season. That can’t be discounted, even though it comes with subpar (at best) defense and an equal amount of games that he shoots the Clippers out of. On the whole, though, Jamal has been around what I expected him to be, maybe a bit worse. If he isn’t traded, let’s hope he can ride his recent hot streak into the playoffs.

Max Jeffrey: D+

Jamal Crawford possesses the rare ability to single-handedly shoot a team out of a rut. The problem is, far more often than not, this ability is utilized in a manner that is detrimental to the team’s overall success. Crawford is best known in his career for his highlight plays, a collection of well-contested shots often preceded by deft dribbling and demoralizing crossovers. He also has some notable accolades: he is the NBA’s all-time leader in four-point plays, is its only three-time Sixth Man of the Year recipient, and is tied for 5th place, along with Vince Carter, for most career three-point field goals made. Crawford has an unrelenting love for the game, and is known by past and present teammates as one of the best locker room presences around. All of this makes it all the more puzzling that he chooses to play the way he does. In year one of a 3-year/$42 million contract, Crawford has certainly underachieved. Early on, he appeared poised for success; through the Clippers excellent 14-2 start to the season, Crawford looked to move the ball and helped get teammates easier shots during possessions, and when he had opportunities for good open looks, he avoided putting the ball down on the floor. But following that great start, in the midst of a series of unfortunate injuries to teammates, Crawford has fallen back into bad habits. He continually gets himself into isolation situations that hog nearly entire possessions, which, on the surface, appear to serve no greater purpose than to hunt for yet another highlight play. Crawford gives up great catch-and-shoot opportunities along the perimeter for poorly-executed jumpers within the arc. On the season, Crawford is shooting just 40% from the field and only 34.4% from beyond the arc. And despite averaging 12.4 points in 26.9 minutes per game, he has a Net Rating of -1.2 and a Plus-Minus of 0.6. And never mind that he’s a complete liability defensively. Crawford tends to be a feast-or-famine type shooter, so none of this comes as a complete surprise. But at 36 years-old and earning roughly $14 million per season, Crawford is playing far below his current value.

Kenneth Armstrong: B

The "Traditional Stats" will tell you that Jamal is basically having the same exact season as he did last year. The only difference is that he is scoring two fewer points per game, shooting fewer free throws per game, and has a lower free throw percentage. But this last month, Jamal seems to be much more effective (ignoring the Clippers' last game against Atlanta). In February, his field goal percentage is up to 48% and three-point is at 43.5% -- if he can keep that up, he will have a nice rhythm going into the playoffs.