Commentary: Dreaming Of Jamal Crawford In Sacramento
Jamal Crawford is officially a member of the Portland Trailblazers, and all I can do is exhale. In the days before making his ultimate decision to head for the Pacific Northwest, Crawford was rumored to have narrowed his destination down to three teams: Portland, New York, and Sacramento. Indiana entered the cookie jar, but after short-changing the former Sixth Man of the Year with a reported two-year, $10 million offer, left empty handed.
In the end, both parties made fitting decisions. With no Brandon Roy—and to a lesser extent, Rudy Fernandez—the Blazers had a hole to fill in their backcourt, preferably with an unafraid scoring two guard who could create for himself with no outside help. That’d be nice.
Coming off a year where his PER, WS, PPG, TS%, ORtg, and 3P% all saw considerable drops, Crawford, a born drifter in this league, needed a new second unit to infuse with his offensive individuality. New scenery, new cast, new conference. In Portland, playing for a possible playoff team with a burgeoning low post star like LaMarcus Aldridge, Crawford can find more open opportunities than ever before.
But speaking as an objective basketball fan who from time to time feels compelled to turn his head whenever an overturned car lay burning on the side of the road, I really, really, REALLY wanted to see Crawford become a King. If, as constituted, Sacramento’s backcourt is a 12-foot deep inground swimming pool filled with dozens of deluxe microwaves and big screen TV’s all attached to an extension cord, adding Crawford would be plugging it all into the nearest outlet. Here they are: Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and John Salmons. Apart from Evans, every other player has one real skill set that places them in the NBA, and it’s scoring. More specifically, an ability to get a decent shot off whenever need be. Just look at their attempted field goals last season—for Jimmer, we’ll (somewhat unfairly) use his senior season at BYU: Salmons (12.3), Thornton (17.5 in 27 games as a King), Fredette (20.7!!), Evans (15.9), and Crawford (11.5). Last season the Kings averaged approximately 85 shots a night, good for third highest in the league (they finished 15th in points per game; the antithesis of efficiency). Add up all those numbers and you get about 92% of the team’s offense.
Now, obviously the numbers are skewed for various reasons—most notably Fredette taking five more shots per game than Tyreke Evans—but even if we adjust the rookie’s attempts down to, say, five a game, that’s still 74% of all shots taken. Not the greatest number for a negligent group of guards who all see themselves as rightful suitors to taking the last shot with a game on the line. Add to the fact you already have DeMarcus Cousins, the league’s most immature, volatile talent, standing alone at center, and an incoming power forward by the name of JJ Hickson who was asked last season to run up the court, catch errant lobs thrown in his direction, and try his hardest to first secure, then dunk the ball. It’ll already be an incredibly difficult task distributing shots on this team, adding Crawford would only fragment an already insurmountable dilemma.
In a condensed offseason filled with the type of questionable transactions we were led to believe threw the right cross that placed a black eye on the league and summoned a lockout, Crawford to Sacramento for a reported two-year, $13 million would be in the corner with a dunce cap. It’d be a combination of horror, irresistibility, and psychotic disorder, all for the average viewer’s pleasure, and the Kings fan’s dread.
Sacramento would have no true point guard, no calming veteran locker room presence apart from the newly signed Chuck Hayes (great move), and the promise of between 5 and 15 legitimate in house blow ups on their hands. I believe this goes without saying, but if Jamal Crawford decided he wanted to play in Sacramento, the West would possess three of the league’s top five must-watch teams in their conference. This was one player’s movement the league should emanate great relief on. But seriously, it would have been so damn appealing.