COMMENTARY | Many NBA teams could benefit from Jamal Crawford's scoring and play-making abilities.
With the Los Angeles Clippers rising to become one of the deepest teams in the NBA, they've become fortunate to have a player such as Crawford come off their bench as a spark. He does a good job of mixing things up when the Clippers' offense becomes stagnant. Despite starting last season as a frontrunner to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award, Crawford ended up finishing second in first-place votes to J.R. Smith. Smith finished the season strong on a New York Knicks team that had an 8-2 record during the last month of the season.
However, with a better roster in Los Angeles, Crawford could make a strong case for winning this year's NBA Sixth Man Award.
Comparing Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith
There are many similarities when you compare the two guards. Neither is a consistent scorer, but when their shots are falling, they are two of the hardest players to stop. Smith and Crawford are also very talented players who have underachieved throughout their careers. After signing with the Clippers, Crawford told the Los Angeles Times that he never bothered to work on his shooting throughout his 12-year career. In fact, last year's offseason was when he finally decided to work on it.
J.R. Smith has been known around the league as an immature player with attitude problems. He's viewed as a player who takes too many bad shots.
The impact both players bring off the bench is very close as well. Though Smith is a better defender and rebounder than Crawford, Crawford is a better scorer and playmaker. While J.R. Smith is best-suited as a second option on a team lacking other scorers, Jamal Crawford has demonstrated throughout his career that he is capable of being a No. 1 scoring option, if required.
Furthermore, he is a less selfish and more consistent scorer than Smith when given the role of sixth man. While Smith averaged more points than Crawford last year, he was utilized in the Knicks' offense much more than Crawford was with the Clippers. During the playoffs, Smith's shooting was far too erratic for a second option on a championship contender. Smith shot a miserable 33 percent from the field over the course of 11 playoff games.
Less minutes for J.R. Smith
After losing in the second round of the playoffs, the Knicks have made some interesting additions to bolster their offense. Some of these changes in New York may affect Smith's usage next year. With Amar'e Stoudemire back from injury and the addition of Andrea Bargnani, you can expect the Knicks to focus more heavily on defense. With Stoudemire and Bargnani healthy, Mike Woodson is expected to give Iman Shumpert more minutes. This is unfortunate for J.R. Smith, because his shots take a while to fall in place -- and he has proved to play much better when given starter minutes.
The bottom line
Now that the Clippers have added J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, it'll be intriguing to see how Doc Rivers manages Jamal Crawford's minutes. However, if there's anyone that can get the most out of his players, it is Doc Rivers. With a roster full of players who can spread the floor, Crawford's scoring will most likely take a slight dip but his assists and field-goal percentage are expected to increase.
At age 33, its unlikely Crawford will break out and improve drastically. Even so, the talented Clippers are now seen as contenders within the Western Conference. Jamal Crawford will be leading a second unit consisting of Darren Collison, Matt Barnes, Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins. If Crawford can have another season as good as or better than the one he had in 2012-13, the Clippers' rise to one of the best teams next year could provide him with enough spotlight to win his second Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Krithic Annamalai lives in Los Angeles and covers the NBA as a Marketing Manager for Sidelines. His articles regarding the NBA have been featured in CBS Sports, Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated. He is also the Co-Founder of Champs Nation.
You can follow Krithic on Twitter @AskKrithic.
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- Jamal Crawford
- Los Angeles Clippers