Dec 28, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards shooting guard Jordan Crawford (15) leads a fast break against the Orlando Magic during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

The Progression of Jordan Crawford

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In a so far disappointing season, Jordan Crawford has stuck out as a very pleasant surprise. Going into the season, Crawford was viewed as a high volume shooter who sucked the air out of the offense by taking bad shots.  And before I go any further, it should be known that I HATED Crawford last year. I thought his poor shot selection was part of the every man for themselves locker room mentality and he maybe should have been shipped off with Javale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche.

How wrong I was. There are a bunch of signs that he’s has gotten better this year. First, he has outpaced offseason projections by quite a bit. He’s improved his shot selection, taking 1.1 less shots a game and increasing his field goal percentage by 1.8% and his three-point percentage is 4%. But Crawford’s greatest improvements have come from areas that don’t involve scoring. He’s increased his AST percentage by 11.7 percentage points and his Rebounding percentage by 2.4. And while that increase in AST percentage is almost certainly a result of playing minutes at point guard, the lack of a corresponding increase in his turnover percentage probably means his knack for finding an open man is for real.

Finally, one of the biggest improvements by Crawford this year has been on the defensive end.  Last year, the Wizards gave up 9 fewer points per 100 possessions when Jordan Crawford was off the court. This year, the Wizards give up 5.3 fewer points per 100 possessions when Jordan Crawford is on the court. That would mean when Crawford is on the court, his defensive improvement from last year to this one has accounted for 14.3 fewer points scored per 100 possessions this season. That obviously seems ludicrous, and would definitely not argue that this stat is an accurate reflection of Jordan Crawford’s skill on defense. I think the season is still young, and there is a lot of statistical interference in on/off numbers when measuring defense. But I do think that while the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, it is clear the Crawford’s defense needed to improve at least somewhat for the margin of error to take his on/off numbers so far in the direction of improvement.

Almost any way you cut it, Crawford has improved. His PER is 12th out of all shooting guards. He compares favorably to some other high profile players in the NBA.  The question is no longer whether he is a net positive or negative to the team, now whether he should be a long term part of it or be traded.

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