You really can’t describe Jamal Crawford’s handles with words, or read descriptions of his movement on a laptop screen and expect to absorb what he did. I won’t even take a stab at trying. Just watch the clip, and know that until further notice, Crawford is the NBA’s King of the Crossover.
Do I look like I’m kidding? Jamal Crawford shook Ray Allen 48 times last night. This move in particular was so mired in filth that Ryan Hollins decided playing dead was his safest option.
I had the privilege of attending this game (free Blake Griffin jersey yay!). Chris Paul went ridiculous down the stretch, Zach Randolph tried to bully everyone on the court, Lamar Odom received the loudest cheers of his career (for no real reason), and in between all of the commotion, Jamal Crawford scored in a wide variety of ways as his usual aggressive self. When it was all said and done, and the Clippers fought their way to 1-0 on the season, Crawford looked good enough to runaway with the Sixth Man of the Year award this season.
Ah, the Sixth Man of the Year award. Obviously not as special as Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year, but still, fans seem to have a special affinity with it—the endearing concept of this “spark plug” who comes off the bench and tries to be as electric as possible while the starters sit.
Last year, new Rockets guard James Harden won the award, coming off the bench for 60 out of 62 games, and averaging around 17 points per game. With Harden out of Oklahoma City, it’s fair to say he’ll probably be starting, and many NBA analysts will have to change their pick for a potential winner. The crop of possibilities contain a few previous winners. No winner has repeated since Detlef Schrempf in the 1991-92 season, but it’s hard to pick otherwise, due to the production of some of these previous winners and their roles on their teams. Read more…
At the behest of those who enjoy watching beautiful people doing beautiful things, Ben Wallace has announced he will retire at the end of this season. One of the hungriest underdogs to ever play basketball, Wallace hammered himself into a niche with unprecedented brute force, becoming known for much, much more than a scraggly afro.
He was respected, beloved, and, to some degree, feared. Wallace was a rare breed: SO good as a rebounding defensive presence and SO bad as an offensive threat. In his honor, I’ve decided to rank all the modern day one-dimensional players, with Ben Wallace in mind as the Godfather of them all. The league has very few players who’re equally effective on offense as they are on defense, but one doesn’t have to overshadow the other (for example, the 2008 Kevin Garnett tilted the entire league with his defensive intensity—it became apart of his identity as he forced the Celtics to keep up on their way to a championship—but it wasn’t like he struggled on offense); this list highlights 14 guys who excel on one end of the floor while leaving much to be desired on the other. Read more…
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. Read more…
Sometimes it doesn’t look it, but people who play in the NBA are really, really good defenders. When only one possession remains in a quarter, half, or game, the defense is more often than not at its highest level; no mental distraction exists and no excuse relating to fatigue or boredom sits in the back of anyone’s head. When they need to buckle down for one sub-24 second window, these athletic specimens can—and will—do so. That’s what makes this particular move so pretty. Jamal Crawford’s defender, C.J. Miles, knows he’s in an isolated situation. He also knows he has, in Deron Williams, help to his left should Crawford drive to the side his preferred side. But in this instance—as in almost every other—the offensive player holds a slight advantage on his defender, much like a wide receiver always knowing his route, forcing the corner to read and react. This isn’t to suggest creating one’s shot is a natural act, like walking or breathing, because it isn’t. Dribbling by a defender, especially one who’s dialed up, focusing 100 percent of his energy on keeping you away from the hoop, still stands as the most critical and arduous development in basketball. So good is this crossover, which results in a wide open Jamal Crawford 20-footer, it comes close to disproving that theory.
Despite his shooting numbers taking a slight dip across the board this season, I still believe Jamal Crawford and the Sixth Man Award belong together; skipping along a moonlit beach, hand in hand, grinning ear to ear. But alas, thanks to some stiffer competition this season, it likely isn’t meant to be. The emergence of Glen Davis, and the usual Lamar Odom/Jason Terry combination are each, apparently, ahead of him in the race. But wouldn’t it be cooler if the award went to someone who was a little more committed to, you know, coming off the bench? Someone who didn’t start a single game for the entire year? Odom (34 starts), Davis (10), and Terry (10) all have played a slightly heavier role than sixth man for their respective teams this season. Crawford? Zero. Both this season and last (when he won the award).
And this could be his last chance at grabbing what he’ll most be associated with once his career comes to a close. The 31-year-old Hawk is losing his explosiveness, attacking the rim less and less; 68% of his shots are launched from at least 16 feet. Then again, who cares about numbers when the clip above gives direct evidence to the contrary. If I had one vote, Jamal Crawford would surely get it.
A travel? My lord yes, but in a move so nice, the referees were either on Hinrich’s level of duped or felt that disallowing it would do the sport an injustice. (This is the first crossover I’ve seen get a Rucker Park-like reaction in an NBA arena.)