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The Fall of Jae Crowder

Time after time Jae Crowder remained the unsung hero of the Boston Celtics. Whether it was during the 48-win season, or his underrated 2016-17 campaign, where he shot an incredibly efficient 46.3% from the field and 39.8% from three. Of course the now twenty-seven year old forward isn’t without his flaws. Since 2015, possibly due to J.R Smith’s cheap-shot which tore Crowder’s ACL, his defense ended every season in the toilet. Especially in 2017, ending the postseason with a defensive rating of 114. Regardless, last season was Crowder’s best. Sporting a career high in offensive rating (118), a net rating of 7.1. Crowder reaches his ceiling as a fringe All-Star, three-and-D wing. Shooting 72.8% in the restricted area. 38% on above the break threes. 46.2% on corner three-point attempts, the acquisition of Jae Crowder was an underrated gain for Cleveland when the blockbuster Isaiah Thomas/Kyrie Irving trade happened. In the Finals LeBron succumbed to exhaustion having to guard both Durant and Draymond. Cleveland needed an extra wing that could give James a breather, their options last season were limited to Shumpert and J.R Smith.

But a truly awful summer, in where he lost his mother to cancer, Crowder came into camp in a funk and never looks to be clicking on offense since suiting up for Cleveland. 39.7 field goal percentage, 30.3 three-point percentage and a P.E.R of 9.8! He’s making only 62% of his attempts in the restricted area and 28.3% of above the break three-point attempts. Crowder’s dreadful play isn’t limited to offense. Last season, Crowder brought down 5.8 rebounds per game, this season it’s fallen to 3.3. In contrast, backup forward Jeff Green is emerging as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. The Underachievers averages for this season are a solid 11 PPG – 3.4 RPG – 1.4 APG – 1 Stocks, 66.4% in the RA and 39% from above the break threes. Basically, Green is giving Cleveland 85% of Jae Crowder’s best year of his career at the age of thirty-two.

Their per 100s, Green vs Crowder’s 2016-17 line are also similar:
JC99: 21.2 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.1 Stocks (blocks + steals), 118 ORtg
Green: 24.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.1 Stocks, 117 ORtg

This is without a doubt a lost year for Crowder. Completely understandable given the circumstances. Still, he’s only twenty-seven, in a fantastic contract and can be moved. How far his star has fallen is yet to be determined. While writing the first draft of this piece I pitched a deal between Cleveland and New York, with the Knicks taking Crowder and whatever salary flotsam and in return they’d get either Michael Beasley (or Doug McDermott) and Jarrett Jack to replace Jose Calderon as the backup point guard. I needed to put my pencil down and reflect at what I just said… Jae Crowder is a step below Michael Beasley… MICHAEL BEASLEY?!

But, as always, I am not wrong. The man i distinctly remember wearing Spongbob Squarepants underwear while at Kansas State, revamped his career over the last three-seasons. We point to the last month or so of his run as a Knick, but the reinvention of Beasley’s been going on since 2015. In the last 110 games, played for the Rockets, Bucks before ultimately the Knicks, Beasley shot 52.6% from the field, averaging 10.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in that span. His per 100s over the last three seasons are apparently the stuff of legends, overall the numbers are 31 PPG, 12 RPG, 2.9 APG and 2.8 Stocks.

This season Beasley’s shooting an incredible 69.5% from RA, and while he isn’t the three-point threat Crowder was last season, he shoots 75% when he attempts a shot taken very, very early into the shot-clock (24-22); and 62.5% on shots take with zero dribbles. In contrast, Crowder shoots 58.3% very, very early into the shot-clock and 42.5% on zero dribbles.

Course, Beasley isn’t someone who’ll turn the tide in series against Golden State. I recommend caution in sounding the alarm on Cleveland’s hopes of going to a fourth straight finals, they should look into moderate improvements to make their path through the East less rocky. Against the Celtics, even with the Green Team thumping the Cavaliers from tip-off to the buzzer, shooters like J.R Smith and Kyle Korver struck fear into my heart as guys who can jump start any comeback. Cleveland may need an extra jumper cable if they want to bust through Washington and Boston, and maybe even Toronto.

The defensive downside to Beasley aren’t a kidding matter. But neither are Korver and Smith’s. Perhaps if you throw the former No. 2 overall pick into the LeBron washing machine he’ll come out on the other side better than ever. In Kyle Korver’s first thirty-five games next to James, he shot an incredible 49% from downtown and 48.2% on catch & shoot. Of course, Korver is one of the best long range shooters of all-time, but regardless, the same can happen to Beasley (or McDermott) if on this Cavs squad.

With Isaiah Thomas back in the fold the Cavaliers should get better in the coming weeks. With I.T, LeBron and Love all healthy come April the East playoffs should be a cakewalk for them. However, Love and Thomas have suffered their fair share of injuries in the past, perhaps it be wise to add another bullet in the chamber. It’s a damn shame how far Jae Crowder’s sunk in such a short time. There isn’t a doubt in my mind he’ll bounce back next season… but the Cavaliers won’t be title contenders next season.

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