Crowder Undervalued? It Sure Looks That Way

WALTHAM, Mass. – One word stood out when Danny Ainge discussed the acquisition of Jae Crowder: undervalued.

Ainge and his cohorts believed that Crowder was much more than what he seemed to be during his time in Dallas. The small forward is beginning to prove that notion to be accurate.

Crowder averaged just 4.6 points per game during his two-plus seasons in Dallas. He also never averaged more than 17.3 minutes per game and he started a total of 24 games.

Those numbers are far from attention-grabbing, but the Celtics saw Crowder as a guy who deserved more. The Celtics have been giving the third-year player more since his arrival in Boston.

Crowder took over Boston’s starting small forward position Friday night after rumors of Jeff Green’s departure began to swirl. That trade has since become official, and Crowder has cemented himself into that starting role.

“I like his grit. I like his toughness,” Brad Stevens said on Tuesday. “We don’t expect him to score 22 points every night, but he works the right way and hopefully he can keep getting better and get more comfortable.”

In making that comment, Stevens was alluding to Crowder’s career-best 22-point effort Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Prior to that contest, the small forward had never notched more than 18 points in 193 NBA games. Now, in just his 12th game with Boston, he has already notched a new career high in the category.

Crowder’s offensive production has increased dramatically with Boston. He has scored in double-figures six times during his last nine games, all while shooting 52.1 percent from the field.

There is no doubt that Crowder has taken a more aggressive stance on offense since his arrival in Boston. He has averaged 8.1 shots per game over his last nine contests. To put that into perspective, he arrived in Boston with a career average of 4.1 shots per game.

One person who isn’t complaining about that aggressive play is Stevens. In fact, the coach is excited about what he is seeing from Crowder.

“I like it and he’s made shots,” said Stevens. “I have sat up there (above the practice court) or been down here (on the practice court) and just watched him work, and he makes shots when he works, too. I feel good about him shooting the ball.”

Crowder’s offensive emergence may surprise some, but teammate Evan Turner is not in that group. Turner watched Crowder become the Big East Player of the Year back in 2011-12, a season during which Crowder averaged 17.5 points per game. Turner knew that Crowder possessed scoring ability, but Crowder’s role in Dallas held him back from showing it off.

“Sometimes in the league, you get into a situation and with him he had to grind his way into the league and grind his way to minutes,” Turner explained. “So sometimes you get in where you fit in, especially with a team like Dallas when you have guys like Dirk (Nowitzki) and Monta (Ellis).”

Now in Boston, with a team that is rebuilding and does not feature a go-to scorer, Crowder has an opportunity to showcase his all-around skills.

“You don’t become Big East Player of the Year without being able to score,” said Turner. “I was aware he had offensive talent, and each situation is different and the opportunity players have is definitely different. Here, you come to a spot where Coach gives you freedom and he’s making the most of it.”

Crowder most certainly is, and there is no indication that this trend will end anytime soon.

The thought of him scoring in double-digits while with Dallas was relatively laughable, at least to most people not named Danny Ainge.

Ainge saw more in Crowder, and since his arrival in Boston, Crowder is showing more of himself.

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