Jordan Crawford dominates (Bruce Bennett/ Getty).
Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford is known for one thing: shooting. That's not to say that he's particularly good at it, or even that he has the reputation of someone that is. Simply put, Crawford likes to put up shots. So far this season, he has averaged 13.9 attempts per game, hitting at a of 39.7 percent clip, in 29.2 minutes per game. And those numbers are perfectly in line with Crawford's yearly per-minute averages. This is just the kind of player we know him to be.
Of course, that doesn't mean that Crawford only shoots. In fact, he thinks people are getting the wrong idea about him. From Michael Lee's profile of the man himself for The Washington Post:
“I can pass easily, but I'm such a dominant scorer that people think I can’t pass,” he said. “They got to start watching the game.”
He is the same player who repeatedly called his own number to hit a flurry of three-pointers to lead a failed rally in a recent loss against Golden State, but was willing to look for Earl Barron to take and make the shot that forced overtime against Atlanta, ignoring that Barron had missed his first seven shots.
Crawford is conscious of the criticisms that he is an unconscious gunner and has become more guarded and defiant because of it. He responds by pulling up deeper from beyond the three-point line or taking more pull-up jumpers in transition. But his teammates understand that on a team with few offensive options, Crawford’s fearlessness is necessary.
I am very sympathetic to arguments that high-volume scorers are sometimes necessary for a team to score at all, but calling those players "dominant" is a little much. Crawford's field-goal percentage says enough about his abilities, but at times his entire approach seems off. That applies to his belief that the way to respond to critics is by taking tougher shots, but also just to his thought that a good shot is defined by whether or not it goes in. Confidence is nice, especially in scorers prone to go through slumps. Delusions are not nice.
But that doesn't mean that Crawford is entirely wrong here, because he does pass more than you might think. This season, Crawford has averaged 4.2 assists per game, up 1.2 from his mark last season. Advanced metrics are relatively kind to him, as well: his 31.1 assist percentage is also a career high by a wide margin. (Note: There are many variations of assist percentage, but all of them rate Crawford at a career high.) These numbers aren't great in isolation, and they're likely to go down whenever John Wall returns from injury, but they still register as meaningful improvement for Crawford. He really is passing more than his gunner's reputation would suggest.
He still has work to do, of course, and learning to rein in his worst impulses would be a good start. Whether that happens or not, though, he deserves to be taken for what he is. And, for now, he's someone who passes to open teammates.
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