New England Jae Crowder
Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder is no usual NBA suspect. He’s a 6-foot-6 wingman with a ripped physique and an endless motor who looks more like an NFL pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme than a professional basketball player. He never stops, never makes excuses, often smiles, loves defense. Crowder, in other words, is a coach’s dream.
The son of former NBA player Corey Crowder, Jae was never the top recruit one might expect of a current pro baller. Following high school, he attended two junior colleges prior to joining Marquette University, where he finally found his hardwood niche – mixing uncooked talent with pure grit to dominate the floor and garner recognition as the 2012 Big East Player of the Year. But despite his ability, Jae Crowder was often overlooked due to a lack of size and shooting creativity. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft before being promptly traded to the Dallas Mavericks on that draft night.
He remained unknown to most.
In Dallas he was buried on the bench behind older players as his Mavs were perennial contenders with little interest or time in developing Crowder. The Mavericks eventually sent him to Boston in December of 2014 as part of the Rajon Rondo trade.
While undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to compete in Boston, Crowder had to be worried about the direction of the once-legendary franchise. General manager Danny Ainge seemed awfully content on acquiring draft picks and losing until those draft picks arrived, or so it seemed. But Crowder, along with fellow blue-collar acquisition Isaiah Thomas (and of course coach Brad Stevens), had other ideas in mind..
As any happy ending story would go, the Celtics somehow made it into the postseason thanks to stuffs and blocks like the one above on Rudy “The Gobert Report” Gobert, before losing to the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. But along the way, Boston would hold on to its never-ending surplus of draft picks and reward Crowder with a well-deserved 5-year, $35 million deal.
Especially deserved when he (somehow) deservedly hits shots like this..
Jae Crowder’s progress
Chris Forsberg’s ESPN article highlights Crowder’s statistical improvements/influences best..
Crowder ranks 23rd in the NBA in ESPN’s real plus/minus metric. He elevates to 19th in RPM wins, an estimate of the number of wins a player has contributed to his team’s total this season. At 5.45 wins, Crowder is six spots ahead of Thomas (4.71), while Jared Sullinger (47th, 3.55), Amir Johnson (52nd, 3.28), and Kelly Olynyk (64th, 2.75) are the only other players for Boston ranked among the top 150 in the league.
Among small forwards, a super competitive category topped by some of the NBA’s biggest names, Crowder ranks sixth in both RPM and RPM wins behind only Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Crowder is third among small forwards in defensive RPM trailing only Leonard and James.
Crowder is putting up career-best numbers across the board, thanks in large part to his increased minutes. After logging a mere 10.6 minutes per game in 25 appearances before being traded by Dallas last season, Crowder is now averaging 32.2 minutes per game this season. That’s translated into career highs at 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.8 steals per game..
In the 15 games since Crowder celebrated his one-year anniversary with Boston, he’s averaging 18.4 points per game while shooting 49.5 percent overall and 35.4 percent beyond the 3-point arc. He’s added 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 steals over 34.3 minutes per game. During that same span, Boston owns an offensive rating of 109 while he’s on the floor and, with a 100.8 defensive rating, Crowder owns a net rating of plus-8.2 points per 100 possessions, which is best on the team in that span.
While calm and gentle away from the court, Jae Crowder is a very different beast on it. He’s the infectiously passionate heart and soul of Boston’s rock-solid defense and fervently leads this team into any arena with confidence. They expect to win.
Look, Jae Crowder is not yet perfectly rounded. He can still improve his ability to create for himself, as Evan Turner and Thomas seem to be the only capable scorers on the Celtics, and he can learn to better control his anger in the heat of the moment, even when deserved (see LeBron James) – but overall the 240-pound small forward is the epitome of hardwood desire.
Looking back on that 2014 trade, both Crowder and 24-year-old Dwight Powell (who is going to NBA All-Star Weekend for the Rising Stars Challenge) turned out to be the best players in a deal that included Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright and – wait for it – a 2016 first-round pick (top seven protected) owed to the Celtics to complete the deal.
Well done, Boston. You’re still winning.
Original background photo of meme: GoLocalProv