Ahhh Jamal Crawford we knew ye well. Crawford came to New York in a sign & trade with Chicago in 2004. It was one Isiah’s early moves, and I didn’t say much at the time of the trade:
In Crawford, New York gets insurance for Allan Houston, and I’m guessing will be his eventual replacement. (Or else why would the Knicks sign him for so long?) Crawford isn’t nearly the shooter that Houston is, but is able to play the point as well.
Back in 2004 New York’s options at shooting guard were an injured Allan Houston, Shandon Anderson, and Penny Hardaway. So there was a need to stabilize the position. Crawford had a good amount of promise to the naked eye. He had just come off his first starting season for the Bulls at the age of 23. He was a combo guard that could score and run the point.
But less than a month in a Knick uniform, it was easy to spot Crawford’s flaws:
Thankfully, the primary backup for Marbury is the Knicks’ new acquisition Jamal Crawford (16.1, 21.6, +2.4). He has been good offensively, but his defense is porous. Crawford’s thin frame is ill-suited to fight through picks, and too fragile to slow down a drive once the other team gets a step on him. Jamal has an excellent handle, but there is nothing more frustrating than having Crawford settling for a jumper (which comprise 82% of his shots), after he’s faked his defender with a series of fancy dribbles. Crawford should force the issue towards the basket with his great passing and dribbling skills. In addition, he’d do well getting fouled driving to the hoop, since the guy makes a free throw shot look like a layup (86% FT).
Crawford’s only 24, so I hope the Knicks coaching staff can get Jamal to produce a little more before he becomes set in his ways. For someone that will likely be in New York for the next 7 years, I’d like for him to be able to give us a little more production, either on offense and defense. He has excellent skills to build on: quickness, dribbling, a good shot, and that three point buzzer beater shows his confidence. He just needs to be smarter with his shot, and work on his defensive fundamentals. The Knicks announcers always make me chuckle with the line “he gets his hands on a lot of balls”, and Crawford’s one positive aspect on defense is creating turnovers (2.1 STL per 40 minutes).
Comparing Jamal Crawford’s first year as a Knick and to his last full year shows little development. The only real improvement he made was getting to the free throw line more often. But even that gain was offset by his drops in steals, blocks, and rebounds. And his defense has always been awful.
Crawford was the kind of player people either loved or hated. His dribble and ability to get open made him look like an All Star at times. His love for the fade away jumper and one dimensional game drove others crazy. Some will always remember Crawford’s time in a Knick uniform by his inability to fight through a pick. Others will think about his 52 point game against the Heat.
It was unlikely that Crawford was going to be a part of the Knicks’ future. His $10M in 2011 was probably more an impediment to getting a superstar in New York than a bonus. Shooting guards that score and don’t defend aren’t too hard to find. Certainly you can get one for under $10M a season. Jamal didn’t fit the mold of a D’Antoni player. He liked to hold the ball, a cardinal sin in the seven second offense. And he wasn’t a great spot-up shooter, another requisite for a D’Antoni guard.
For most of his career he has been the #1 or #2 scoring option on his team, and his career record is 168-375 (31%). Crawford is the NBA’s version of baseball’s innings eater. A player who can provide scoring for a mediocre club, but not someone you’d want to use as a major cog on a championship team.