Jae Crowder has once again gotten into it with Twitter haters—this time about his minutes next season. The Celtics forward never hesitates to clap back at people disrespecting him.Crowder’s relationship with some (not all) Celtics fans is one of the few blemishes on what has been, for the most part, a love affair between him and the city of Boston. He’s brought a blue collar attitude to the franchise that doesn’t go unnoticed, but he’s ruffled some feathers along the way. Last season, Crowder heard fans cheering for Gordon Hayward at TD Garden when the Utah Jazz were going through their introductions. It’s difficult to know how true this is, but this illustrates the tension between Boston and the Marquette product; the slightest slight can irk JC and subsequently, start an unnecessary social media flame war. Fast forward seven months. When the Celtics signed Hayward this summer, Danny Ainge needed to trade Crowder, Avery Bradley, or Marcus Smart in order to offer Hayward a full max contract. Bradley, the longest tenured Celtic and a fan favorite, was eventually dealt to Detroit for Marcus Morris, but a lot of people were eager to see Crowder go. Despite Ainge coming out and reinforcing that “Jae is a big part of what we’re doing,” a loud minority felt that the oft disgruntled Crowder was redundant after signing Hayward and drafting Jayson Tatum. In Crowder’s defense, he’s been an important player during the rebuild. He’s a versatile defender, has a pretty shooting stroke, and made 40% of his threes last season. Crowder is a prototypical 3-and-D wing that allows the Celtics to play small ball lineups with Crowder at the 4. On top of all of that, Crowder is one of the NBA’s biggest bargains. He’ll make $7 million on average until the summer of 2020, where players with Crowder’s skill set at the age of 27 would probably make around $12-18 million on the open market. For a team that is headed toward luxury tax territory, Crowder’s an invaluable role player and yet, some have questioned #99. Here are some possible reasons:
Master of None Crowder is solid, but he’s not necessarily elite in any specific area. He isn’t the playmaker and scorer that Isaiah Thomas is, he’s not the perimeter defensive specialist that Bradley is, and he isn’t a freak athlete with high upside like Jaylen Brown. Crowder isn’t necessarily a marketable player or a SportsCenter commodity, but he’s been a consistent contributor on a winning team. For lack of a better description, he’s a Brad Stevens’ type of player. It takes more context to truly understand Crowder’s impact with the Celtics. For example, NBAMath.com examines the value a player adds on both ends of the floor specific to play type. Comparing the 2015-16 season to 2016-17, Crowder dramatically increased the value he added on offense in spot ups and off cuts, two crucial elements to Brad Stevens’ pace-and-space motion offense. On defense, he improved in almost every area too, including guarding isolation, pick and roll ball handlers and roll cheap jerseys nba men, and in post up situations. He isn’t elite in any particular area, but over the course of an entire game of around a hundred possessions, he’ll make more good plays than mistakes. As fans, it’s easy to get infatuated with that late game possession where Bradley locks up Kyrie Irving one-on-one or Jaylen throws down a tomahawk in a blowout. Crowder doesn’t give you a lot of those moments, but his body of work can’t be measured in a highlight or 140 characters.
Shot Selection Last season, Crowder had a career year shooting the ball. A near 40% three-point clip is exactly what the Celtics need from him as he spaces the floor for players like Thomas, Horford, and now Hayward, but—and this is arguably nitpicking—there is still something left to be desired. Despite career high shooting percentages, Crowder’s scoring totals have stagnated over the last two years (14.2 ppg in ‘15-’16 to 13.9 ppg in ‘16-’17). Despite being built like a linebacker, Crowder tends to float around the perimeter. Some of that is by design to create space for his teammates, but Crowder still only averaged 1.3 drives per game last season, which is 8th most on the Celtics. The only players that drove to the basket less than Crowder with consistent playing time were Gerald Green, Jonas Jerebko, and Amir Johnson. Crowder is a 6’6, 235 pound forward. He’s a physical beast that refuses to go inside. It would be like Gronk if Gronk never went over the middle and punished would-be tacklers. Driving more could really help open up Crowder’s game and the Celtics offense, but Stevens seems to have a specific game plan for using him on the offensive end. Since the Celtics’ offensive rating when Crowder was on the court was a 115.5 as opposed to a 106.2 when off, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.