Last year at the trade deadline, team president Ernie Grunfeld took another step towards his roster re-building project by trading away veterans Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks. In exchange the Wizards received one key piece that Grunfeld would not do the trade without. Jordan Crawford. And that is who we preview next, here on Wiz Of Awes.
Jordan Crawford was the 27th pick of the 2010 draft, playing sparingly with the Hawks. But once he came over to Washington, he got his chance. Crawford played in 26 games for his new team and started 18 of them. He also averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game in a Wizards uniform.
However, not everything was pretty for Jordan. His per game averages were respectable—especially for a rookie—but his efficiency as a scorer has to improve in his second NBA season. For the Wizards, Crawford shot 39 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from behind the three point line, and all of this is while attempting 16.3 shots per game. On top of his shooting woes, he also turned the ball over 2.6 times. It is the shooting percentages that are more worrisome for Crawford, as you expect a young player to turn the ball over in the NBA—just like we saw with John Wall a season ago.
As critical as I’ve been of Ernie Grunfeld, the trade for Jordan Crawford was not just good, it was great. While Jordan has a lot of growth to make in his second season, he is extremely talented. At 6’4” he is able to bring position flexibility as a shooting guard, and he has the ability serve as a backup option to John Wall at point guard like he did at the end of last season. Jordan is a very talented passer as well, particularly in transition, and as I have noted in prior player previews this team does not have a lot of maturity and enough guys that play the right way. Crawford does. He is not the prettiest with the ball in his hands, and Wizards play-by-play announcer Steve Buckhantz has called him “herky-jerky” in the past. To that I ask, is Manu Ginobili pretty? Not at all, but he gets the job done.
The good news is Crawford appears to be growing and evolving. Earlier this off-season he said he thinks he can be better than Michael Jordan. While that is a bit taboo to bring up as a player, he certainly does not lack for confidence. Yesterday on Twitter, Wizards beat writer Michael Lee tweeted “I know it was just a scrimmage, but it’s a good thing nobody from ATL watched Jordan Crawford play today. He was scoring from all over court.”
Jordan’s role on this year’s team is solely dependent on what the Wizards do with Nick Young, who is a restricted free agent. If Young goes elsewhere, Crawford will be the starting guard next to John Wall on opening night, December 26th at the Verizon Center against the New Jersey Nets. But if Nick Young is re-signed, we’ll likely see Jordan Crawford as the sixth man this season.
Going forward it’s up to Jordan on how big a role he wants to play on this team. Talent, confidence, athleticism, work ethic, and versatility are all certainly not lacking. If he can improve his jump shot and refrain from taking too many shots he can be an NBA starting-caliber shooting guard. If not, he’ll be a sixth or seventh man the rest of his career.
Either way, a great trade by Ernie Grunfeld.
Twitter: @Kevin_Hine and @WizOfAwesKevin