There is a buzz around Dallas that Jae Crowder may be the steal of the draft. An undersized NBA small forward by today’s standars at 6’ 6”, Crowder will have to push for time behind Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and possibly Dahntay Jones while not being a great candidate to slide into the backcourt with the logjam of talent there. Is this a guy who needs to be put on the fast track to more time in the rotation and if so, where?
There are a number of statisticians who ranked Jae as one of the best college basketball players last year. Possibly sliding into the second round due to his size, Crowder’s pedigree is impressive.
Crowder played junior college basketball for Howard County Junior College. Along with helping Howard win its first ever national men’s college basketball title, Crowder was also selected as the 2009-10 NJCAA Player of the Yearand State Farm Junior College Player of the Year
Crowder then transferred to Marquette , averaging 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds his first season with and 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds, along with 2.5 steals in 2011-2012. This earned him a the honor of being named unanimously to the First Team All-Big East followed by receiving Big East Player of the Year honors, the only Marquette player to ever do so. He was also one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award in 2012.
Crowder doesn’t possess individual athletic talents that turn heads but uses his strength and smarts along with a yeoman work ethic to make things happen on both ends of the floor. Draft Express explains:
“He’s extremely intelligent operating off the ball, having a knack for moving to the right spot to catch and finish in a simple and effective manner…has a terrific touch around the basket, which helps explain how he’s able to convert 61% of his attempts inside the arc. There’s nothing pretty about his game, but it’s brutally effective at this level.”
Crowder is also a superior two-way player along the lines of Shawn Marion and Delonte West. Often tasked with the job of guarding multiple other positions he exhibits the same determination on defense as on offense and combines excellent fundamentals with savvy anticipation and doesn’t give up ground easily even to bigger or quicker opponents.
Crowder effectively adapted to the step-up in competition from junior college to Division I NCAA and will have to adapt again to the NBA game but based on past success he’s a good candidate for doing just that.
So far so good: Crowder led the Mavericks’ in the Vegas summer league with 16.6 points, five rebounds and 2.5 steals per game, making he All-Summer League team along with Dominique Jones.
Crowder is the prototype blue-collar player with an improving skill set, finding a way to be in the right place at the right time to score easy baskets and grab rebounds while playing tough unrelenting hustle defense.
In a suddenly crowded set of talented veterans and newcomers, Crowder has a strong possibility to stand out with a skill set that gives Rick Carlisle the flexibility to utilize finesse and wing players more generously without giving up toughness and tenacity on the inside.
I had personally presumed that Vince Carter would be spending more time backing up Shawn Marion than in the backcourt but Crowder’s arrival seems to demand the most attention of the young guns lobbying for time with the possible exception of Bernard James who will likely play center. Crowder will already be trying to make the transition from spending most of his time in college at power forward to small forward in the NBA so it’s likely that VC and Dahntay Jones will be doing a lot of double-duty as may swingmen to allow him time at the 3.
Crowder has a promising skill set but most importantly an intensity that the team has lacked since losing Tyson Chandler. Those kind of intangibles are hard to find. The new season promises a lot of new wrinkles and as with most Maverick fans, I’m excited to see how all the new weapons will give Dirk a chance to shine even brighter without shouldering the entire burden.
Tags: Bernard James Brandan Wright Chris Kaman Dahntay Jones Dallas Mavericks Darren Collison Delonte West Dirk Nowitzki Dominique Jones Elton Brand Jae Crowder Mark Cuban Mavericks O. J. Mayo Popular Rodrigue Beaubois Vince Carter