Second-year player Jae Crowder ended last season with a plan. He wanted to work even harder to improve himself on and off the court. The result was showing up to training camp 20 pounds lighter, a better shooting stroke, and a new father.
In his first season with the Dallas Mavericks he averaged 17 minutes a game, more than any rookie in the Rick Carlisle coaching era. For a head coach that traditionally does not play rookies, circumstances with last year’s roster and injuries warranted giving Jae a shot. This season he has continued to earn himself a key role in the rotation. “If he is only getting one shot”, said Carlisle after a loss to San Antonio Thursday, “the ball probably wasn’t moving enough because he is a pretty good movement maker.” I spoke with Jae about his role on the team this year and their upcoming matchup with the Chicago Bulls. RF: From your perspective, what do you think happened in the second half [against the Spurs]? JC: “I just think we shot ourselves in the foot. It wasn’t too much of what we are doing, but what we are doing to ourselves. It cost us. They are a good ball club over there that is well coached. They don’t shoot themselves in the foot that often, so you almost have to play perfect basketball against them on the offensive end and solid on the defensive end.” RF: What do you think about this team at this point in the season in comparison to last year? JC: “[Its] night and day. You see how we got back in the game. I think last year we would have folded the tent. We have a lot of prideful guys in here and we are going to keep fighting.” RF: You lost some weight during the offseason to be able and come back and do more things. Coach talked about if you are not getting shots then something is wrong with the ball movement. JC: “When I was in the game for the most part we were calling sets. It wasn’t too much of a flow basketball game at that point, so my shots were limited. It was just the circumstances of that game at that point.” RF: Do you think this team has come together better than last year? JC: ”For sure, we have a tough schedule so we have no choice really. We want to make the playoffs, that’s our goal. We have a good road trip coming up that we need all three of these games. It will be big for us.” RF: Are looking forward to playing Chicago? They are one of the more physical NBA teams?
JC: “Like I said, these are the teams we should beat. We have to play our style of basketball and don’t let them change the way we play. They are a great physical team, a great defensive team and we know that. We just have to keep playing the way we know how to play and we will be fine.”
Follow Jae Crowder on Twitter @CJC9BOSS