Clippers Award Series - Jamal Crawford

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While the Clippers 2012-13 season did not end how many anticipated, there were still a number of standout individual performers from what is widely considered the most historic season in franchise history. Over the course of the next 10 days, Clippers.com will pass out awards in line with the NBA’s annual end-of-season hardware, including a couple of special editions.

Jamal Crawford’s memorable 2012-13 season will likely be defined by what he did not achieve.

He narrowly missed out on the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, coming in second place to New York’s J.R. Smith only after Smith put together an incredible final month. He was presumably up for his first All-Star spot, but when the reserves were announced in late January, Crawford, who helped lead the Clippers to the league’s best first-half record, was left off the Western Conference roster.

It speaks to the kind of expectations, Crawford, in his 13th NBA season, had after joining the Clippers on a four-year deal last summer. And for the most part, those expectations were blown past like one of his patented dribble moves.

Crawford opened the season with seven 20-point performances in his first 11 games, setting the tone for what was to come, a whirling dervish of crossovers, dribble hesitations and shot-making. He had a league-high 29 games with 20 points or more, set the team’s single-season record for 3-pointers made (149) and led the NBA in bench scoring per 36 minutes, surpassing Smith who led the league in points off the bench outright.

However, Crawford’s damage was exponential in the fourth quarter, when he was the third-leading scorer in the final 12 minutes trailing just Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. He led the Clippers in fourth-quarter minutes, typically closing games alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt. He made huge 3-pointers in the final minute of games against San Antonio and Oklahoma City and helped the Clippers put away the Kings in the regular-season finale with a pair of 3-pointers that brought them back from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit.

While there could be a case for Matt Barnes, who was selected as the Clippers.com Defensive Player of the Year on Monday and had a career-year as a two-way player off the bench, Crawford was not merely an offensive force. Former Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro often talked about Crawford’s defensive effort. He averaged a steal per game, including helping lock down a win against the Nets in March by jumping a pass from Deron Williams and leading to a breakaway layup.

Players and coaches around the Western Conference were of the belief all season that Crawford was the league’s best player off the bench.

Kobe Bryant said Crawford played like the Sixth Man of the Year from “the word ‘go.’” Mark Jackson praised Crawford for having an impact “every single night” off the bench, something the Warriors head coach said is “awfully tough” to do. And in March, during the thick of the Sixth Man race, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said, “He’s definitely one of the best players off the bench. And let’s face it; he’s really a starter.”

Brooks was right. Crawford was third on the Clippers in minutes per game and third in scoring. He was a member of the team’s most efficient five-man lineup and effectively was as vital a part of the 56-win regular season as anyone.

“[He has the] ability to just come in and be a game-changer,” Paul said. “He’s one of the few guys that come off the bench in the league that teams have to prepare for like a starter. He should have been an All-Star this year, but we know how valuable he is to our team and why he should [be] Sixth Man of the Year.”

THE CREDENTIALS

Finished second in NBA Sixth Man of the Year voting, led NBA in 20-point games off the bench, was No. 2 in scoring off the bench and finished third in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring behind Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

G

GS

MPG

RPG

APG

SPG

FG%

3P%

FT%

PPG

76

0

29.3

1.7

2.5

1.0

.438

.376

.871

16.5


THE FAN VOICE

Clippers fans were asked to name their Sixth Man of the Year for the 2012-13 season via Twitter. It looks like it simply came down to two guys. Here are some of their responses:

Jamal Crawford

Matt Barnes