CRAWFORD SHOWING PLAYMAKING ABILITY
CHARLOTTE – He is still the league’s leader in points off the bench. But as defenses have adjusted to the scoring prowess of Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, he has been forced to do some adjusting of his own.
“Now that I’m seeing different defenses, different coverages and I have the ball that’s when I can make a play,” Crawford said Friday as the Clippers concluded practice at Johnson C. Smith University near downtown Charlotte.
Earlier in the season Crawford’s primary role off the bench was to score the basketball and he did so with unparalleled efficiency to any previous time in his career. He’s scored 20 points or more 10 times and is averaging 17.1 points per game.
CRAWFORD'S SCORING AND ASSISTS COMPARISON
Over the last nine contests, he has become less scorer and more playmaker, accumulating at least four assists in six of those nine outings with 75% of his 48 assists on the season coming in that span.
“I pride myself in being an unselfish player as well,” said Crawford, who despite being widely known as a shoot-first player has averaged at least 3.2 assists in nine of his 13 NBA seasons. “In practice and stuff sometimes I pass up shots when I see guys open. If I continue to do that I think it keeps the defense off balance because I’m not just a scorer.”
Keeping the defense honest has been paramount on the Clippers’ current road trip. Crawford tallied a team-high five assists Tuesday against the Bulls and on Wednesday in Charlotte when he had arguably his poorest shooting performance of the season (2-for-12 from the floor), he chipped in eight assists with just one turnover.
Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro sounded pleased with Crawford’s ability and willingness to make things happen for his teammates. “He had eight assists and a lot of teams are gearing up on him to try and slow him down,” Del Negro said Friday. “So, he’s good off the dribble and he only had one turnover; 8-to-1 we’ll take that every time.
“If they’re going to load up on him we’ve got to make them pay.”
Lately, whether it came on a dish to a slicing Matt Barnes or lob to Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, Crawford has made opponents pay.
“It’s never the one guy that’s guarding me I’m worried about, I think I can get by him. It’s the other two guys. I see them get caught looking and Matt will cut or [Jordan] will point up or Blake will do something or I’ll see [Chris Paul’s] man moving or whoever,” Crawford said. “I’m looking at those guys. I’m never looking at the guy in front of me because I feel like he’s not even really there.”