Crowder Rising Among NBA's Most Efficient Shooters

WALTHAM, Mass. – It’s easy for a player to fly under the radar when he has a teammate like Isaiah Thomas playing alongside him.

That’s been exactly the case for Jae Crowder this season, as he is quietly having one of the most efficient shooting campaigns in the entire NBA.

Following Monday night’s win over Charlotte, Crowder found himself ranked ninth in the league in 3-point shooting (minimum 100 attempts) with a 42.6 percent clip, which is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the career-high mark of 33.6 percent he established last season.

On top of that, he’s also setting new career marks in field goal percentage (48.4 percent) and free throw percentage (88.7 percent).

How impressive is that combination of clips?

Well, he’s one of only two qualified players in the league who is shooting at least 48 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3 and 88 percent from the free-throw line. The other is Portland guard C.J. McCollum (48.3/42.4/89.7).

“I’m just in a good rhythm shooting the ball right now,” said Crowder, who has a team-high effective field goal percentage of 60.5 percent. “How I know that is that every time I take a shot I feel like it’s going in. That’s when I feel like my work that I’m putting in is paying off a little bit.”

Crowder puts in as much work on his shot as any player on the Celtics. He’ll often find himself wandering over to the team’s training facility during the middle of the night to hoist up shots – especially if he’s coming off a difficult shooting performance the night before.

Those overtime shifts don’t go unnoticed by Crowder’s teammates.

“I think it’s really paid off for him,” said Avery Bradley following Tuesday’s practice in Waltham. “He wasn’t shooting the ball as well as he wanted to a few games this season and he just continues to work hard.”

Brad Stevens has been impressed by the fact that most of Crowder’s long range makes are coming at his natural position of small forward.

“One of the things that’s been really good is that he’s doing it almost exclusively at the 3,” said Stevens. “A lot of his open shots came at the 4 in the past because he’s playing against bigger guys that have a tendency to sink in on help. But he always shoots the right ones, doesn’t force bad shots and he’s worked hard to become a really good shooter.”

The main reason why Crowder’s impressive season is flying under the radar is because he rarely scores in high volume.

He has not notched more than 21 points in a game this season, but he’s consistently reached double figures in the scoring column. He always seems to hover around his average of 13.0 points per game, as he’s tallied between 10 and 20 points during 23 of the 33 games he’s appeared in.

But Crowder doesn’t need to score in high volume to be effective; his presence on the court alone comes with incredible value because his efficiency forces opponents to stay glued to his side at all times.

Having that type of presence on the floor opens up opportunities for Crowder’s teammates. Thomas in particular says that he wouldn’t be able to score at such a high rate on a consistent basis if it weren’t for the other efficient shooters that Stevens places on the floor with him.

“Any type of spacing while I’m on the floor helps me out,” said Thomas, who leads the Eastern Conference in scoring with 28.4 PPG. “And Brad puts the right kind of personnel in that puts me in position to be successful because the defense has to pick and choose what they want to stop.”

While Crowder may not deliver high-scoring efforts on a nightly basis, his efficiency on the offensive end and grit on the defensive side of the ball are bringing incredible value to the team.

“He’s going to do all the things that you want a guy like him to do,” said Terry Rozier, “And that’s not just score the ball; he’s going to put our team in position to win.”