2013-14 PLAYER CAPSULES: JAMAL CRAWFORD
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
Over the next few weeks, Clippers.com will take a look back the 2013-14 season for each member of the Clippers’ roster and look forward to the offseason and what may be in store for 2014-15. The next installment in our series of player capsules is Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford.
3-pointers made by Crawford in the regular season, breaking the franchise record of 149 that he set a year earlier. He did so in seven fewer games and almost 200 fewer minutes.
Games with more than 30 points. Crawford started 24 times and topped 30 points in three of those games. He also did so in three games off the bench, becoming the only player in 2013-14 to have at least three 30-plus scoring games as a starter and a reserve.
Teams and Sixth Man awards in Crawford’s career, including winning the 2013-14 after averaging 18.6 points and 3.2 assists. His season was better statistically than 2009-10 when he won the award with Atlanta and was comparable to his final season as a full-time starter when he was with the Knicks and Warriors. Crawford, 34, is oldest Sixth Man winner and is the only player in NBA history to win the award on separate teams.
Crawford’s 2013-14 was as though he made up for a year earlier. His first season with the Clippers was wondrous. He led the league in 20-point games off the bench and was among the most dominant fourth-quarter scorers in the league, leading a reserve unit that was the NBA’s best. But he narrowly missed out on the Sixth Man of the Year award to J.R. Smith and was thought of as one of a handful of candidates to make the 2013 All-Star team.
Flash forward to his second season in L.A. and Crawford was holding the Sixth Man trophy in May at a press conference prior to the Clippers’ taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of the West Semifinals. It was telling that Crawford ran away with the award a year later. He was versatile, a “utility guy” as Doc Rivers would say, and not only lit up opponents with his ability to score, but showed that he was more a passer, playmaker and even defender than anyone realized.
Rivers’ system allowed Crawford to use his long arms and instincts to make plays in passing lanes on defense and protected him from getting beat off the dribble with DeAndre Jordan behind him. Offensively, he was given freedom as he was in 2012-13, but also was used as a catch-and-shoot player when he started alongside Chris Paul. He was a point guard and a shooting guard and a small forward. Outside of a strained calf that cost him more than a month at the tail end of the season, Crawford’s 2013-14 was arguably the most complete season of his career.
A guy with Seattle ties was on fire north of the border. Former University of Washington star Terrence Ross was having a career night for the Raptors on the sixth leg of a seven-game Clippers road trip in Toronto. It was a back-to-back, Paul was out, J.J. Redick was banged up and so was Darren Collison. And worse yet, Ross was going off in the first half, scoring more than half of what would be a career-high 51 points.
The problem for Ross, and the Raptors, was that another guy with deeper Seattle ties was matching him blow for blow. Crawford had a sensational game, one that was historic by comparison to other reserves. He scored 37 points, made five 3-pointers and missed just three shots from inside the 3-point line. He also had 11 assists, two steals and three rebounds. It was the second time in 2013-14 that Crawford went for 30-plus points and 11-plus assists off the bench. No player in NBA history had done so before.
However, when Crawford put up similar numbers for the Clippers in a Nov. 29 win over the Kings, also with Redick hurt and Paul out, Crawford did it in more subtle terms. His show in Toronto was spectacular. It was the diamond in a game of offensive gems, surpassing even Ross, after the Clippers edged out at 126-118 victory.
He spent a few weeks in Los Angeles before heading back to Seattle where he will run his Pro Am over the summer and continue working out daily. He tends to put in on-court work with local friends like Will Conroy, but he also said he expects some familiar faces to visit for his Pro Am, including Paul and Blake Griffin. Looking ahead, he has two years remaining under contract with the Clippers and considering the relationship that blossomed between him and Redick, it would be reasonable to think that the duo will continue being the most effective pair of 2-guards in the league for that length time or more.