Wow. Joe Lacob did his job. He’s shipped out Toney Douglas, getting Jordan Crawford and Marshon Brooks from the Boston Celtics in return. It was a three team deal, in which Douglas went to the Miami Heat, and the Heat sent Joel Anthony and some picks to the Celtics.
I’ve been after Lacob to get Stephen Curry a legitimate backup, and he did just that. He did better than that, in fact. In Jordan Crawford, he got the Warriors a legitimate Sixth Man to replace Jarrett Jack.
And by so doing, has turned the Golden State Warriors into legitimate contenders for the NBA title.
There has been some confusion in the Warriors media about who Jordan Crawford is, and the role that he will play for the Warriors. Marcus Thompson, for instance, seems to believe that he’s a shooting guard.
Jordan Crawford was brought to the Warriors to play POINT GUARD, behind Stephen Curry. It is Crawford who is going to be running the Warriors’ second unit, moving Kent Bazemore where he belongs, off the ball.
Before this season, Crawford was played almost exclusively at the two, and generated a bit of a bad reputation. Witness this summation from Grantland’s Robert Mays:
Notorious chucker who maintains one of the planet’s worst shot selections and misses a staggering amount of attempts; not pumped about the whole defense thing.
That was the old Jordan Crawford. But this season, a remarkable transformation has taken place. Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned Crawford into his starting point guard. Where Crawford absolutely flourished, and a team that was expected to tank made a surprising surge into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Prompting Bill Simmons to write:
Anyone who can turn Jordan Crawford into a competent point guard has to be a Coach of the Year candidate.
And bemoan the fact of the Celtics’ resurgence. Simmons is completely behind Danny Ainge’s obvious desire to tank for a shot at Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, et al.
Well, the Celtics clearly got their tank back on with this trade. I think we can assume Rondo is next, as soon as he proves he’s healthy.
Jordan Crawford has proved himself this season to be a lead guard, capable of running a team. To begin with, take a look at his 5.7 assists against only 2.2 turnovers, in 31 minutes/gm. That’s a terrific assist level on a bad team with no real finishers. And the assist/to ratio of 2.6 is also terrific. On a team that has been afflicted by the ballhandling woes of Bazemore and Douglas (not to mention the occasional Stephen Curry lapse), Crawford will appear a godsend.
Here’s my take on Crawford’s point guard abilities, beyond the stats:
Crawford’s handle is rock-solid. Unlike most NBA point guards, he goes left as well as he goes right, and can finish with either hand. He has terrific court vision, and is a great facilitator whose passes hit his targets on the hands.
He is terrific in the open court. Possesses great acceleration. Runs the break well (a notable Douglas and Bazemore bugaboo).
And, like Jarrett Jack, Crawford is terrific at creating his own shot. At 6-4″, he can simply shoot over most of his defenders. He has unlimited range on his three point shot, if not great accuracy (.318 this season). His bread and butter is the midrange shot, where he is extremely efficient. And while he’s not a high-flying finisher, he’s got the ability to break defenders down off the dribble and create penetration.
Take a look for yourself (to the strains of Tupac’s “Picture Me Rolling”):
He’s always been an explosive guy, a guy you’re concerned with when you come into the game. It doesn’t take much to get him going. And sometimes, even if he doesn’t have a good game going, if he knocks one or two shots down, he’ll get real hot real fast. He’s a guy that you always have to pay attention to.
In other words, Crawford’s not just the perfect guy to run the Warriors offense-starved second unit, but also a perfect guy to pair with Curry in the backcourt, to move Curry off the ball.
The Warriors have found their offensive replacement for Jarrett Jack. While adding Andre Iguodala, and losing no one else of importance on their roster. Not to mention remaining under the cap. A remarkable achievement, for which I heartily congratulate the Warriors’ GM, Joe Lacob.
There are a couple of concerns with Crawford: that “chucking” thing, and his defense. But I’m not really concerned with either.
To start with, Crawford earned his chucking reputation playing off the ball, on losing teams. He’s been a different player on the Celtics as a point guard, and I expect that to continue, and even improve, on the far better Warriors.
Partially as a result of his great free-throw shooting (career 82%) his TS% is a very respectable .526 this season. Last season Jarrett Jack’s was .542, but this season on the Cavs it’s down to .496.
As for his sub-par three point efficiency, I expect Mark Jackson to restrain that a bit. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if it improved considerably, ala Andre Iguodala’s. Getting the opportunity to play alongside Curry and Thompson, and even Barnes, Speights and Green, will create some great looks for Crawford, that he hasn’t gotten so far in his career.
As for his defense, the Warriors have obviously lost some of the ability to defend point guards that Toney Douglas gave them. But I don’t think they really needed that: Iggy, Thompson and Bazemore are all good defenders of point guards. Green and (gulp) Barnes will be given the better wings to guard. Crawford can and will be hidden on the least dangerous wing. And his size will probably make him a better defender of them than Jarrett Jack was.
I’m ecstatic over this deal. The Warriors have acquired their Sixth Man. Their Manu Ginobili, their Jamal Crawford, their Sarunas Marciulonis. Their Jarrett Jack.
NBA, en garde.
The Warriors are coming.
I might be wrong about this, but I don’t think there’s anything to be intrigued with here. I think Brooks was just a throw in, and will be planted firmly on the Warriors bench behind Kent Bazemore. After a decent rookie season in which he got a lot of minutes playing for a very bad team, Brooks has virtually disappeared from view. Not a great shooter, terrible defender, no reason to play him. An expiring contract.
TONEY DOUGLAS ON THE HEAT
Most commentators seem to view the Heat’s side of this trade from a money angle. They dumped Joel Anthony’s larger contract, thus saving them considerable luxury tax, and also giving them flexibility to add another big man for the stretch run this season.
I think there’s a little more to it than that. The Heat have been shorthanded at guard this season, with Ray Allen more limited than ever, Dwayne Wade sitting out games to help his knee, and now Mario Chalmers dinged up. They’ve been shopping for a guard, and I think Douglas might just fit them perfectly. Great defender, as we know. Great three point shooting target for LeBron to find. And with LeBron, Chalmers and Cole handling the ballhandling duties, Douglas’ greatest weakness is covered up.
The Warriors needed more from Douglas than perhaps he could handle. In a different role, the Heat may get the best out of him. An underrated move for the Heat.