First impressions on the Jamal Crawford trade

Well, I had originally planned my first post as co-author to be a pre-draft look at how much work Rick Sund had to do this offseason, and then he beats me to the punch by doing something.  Well, now at least I have something big about which to write.

My initial reaction to this trade was positive.  The Hawks traded their junk and got back a legitimate NBA player.  Certainly, Jamal Crawford is overrated to an extent by virtue of being a volume shooter, but there's no doubt that he's a talented NBA player whereas the jury is still out on Acie Law IV and the corpse of Speedy Claxton.  So here's a quick look at the numbers.  Numbers and tables after the jump.

Jamal Crawford:

Year eFG% TS% AST% STL% TOV% USG%
2008-09 47.9 54.5 18.1 1.1 11.2 22.8
Career 46.9 51.7 22.4 1.7 12.6 23.1

 

 

 

 

Numbers courtesey of basketball-reference.com

The numbers support the assertion that Crawford is strictly a volume shooter.  He was used last season on 22.8% of team possessions while only assisting on 18.1% of made baskets, and without a high turnover rate.  He managed to take a lot of shots without being the primary ball-handler (generally this was Stephen Jackson).  His eFG% is lower than any of the 8 players from the Hawks' rotation last season-I have no doubt we'll grow very tired of seeing him chucking shots at some point this season.  But his TS% is about the same as Mike Bibby, and better than Joe Johnson, so he's a decently efficient scorer.

His assist % is extremely low for a point guard, where he nominally played about half his time last year.  18.1 puts him about halfway between Mike Bibby and Flip Murray.  There aren't too many comparable players in terms of assist rate but among them are Carmelo Anthony, Jarrett Jack, Tyronn Lue, Mike James, John Salmons, and Brad Miller-so basically guys that have the ball a lot (when they're on the floor) but generally aren't primary ball handlers.  In short, Jamal Crawford is not a point guard.

His numbers (most especially efficiency numbers) from last season are very comparable to Flip Murray's.  Here's a quick look for comparison.

Flip Murray:

eFG% TS% AST% STL% TOV% USG%
50.1 54.3 14.0 2.4 12.5 24.3

 

 

 

Flip Murray had a higher eFG% than Jamal Crawford (just over league average) but the TS% was about the same.  This is due to the fact that Jamal Crawford was able to get to the free throw line more often (5.0 per36, compared to Flip's 4.2 per36), and the fact that he shot a much higher % at the FT line (87% compared to 76%).  The league average for TS% was 54.44, so both players were right around league average in terms of scoring efficiency.  Flip also posted a higher usage rate, slightly inflated by the fact that he was more likely to turn the ball over.

In essence, we're getting a very similar player to the 2008-09 Flip Murray.  This may not seem like a big deal, except that the 2008-09 version of Flip Murray was rather valuable.  A man who can create his own shot, serve as a volume shooter, and be around league average in terms of efficiency is a fairly valuable asset (read, Joe Johnson).  While we could have resigned Flip Murray for less money than we're paying Jamal Crawford, expecting him to repeat what was in every way a career year is crazier than hoping Josh Smith can improve his 3 point shooting.

The big question at this point is what Jamal Crawford's role will be.  He is by no means anything resembling an NBA PG and should not be asked to impersonate one.  I'm hoping and praying that Mike Woodson carries over the lesson he learned with Flip Murray last year into his usage of Jamal Crawford.  For a much-maligned head coach, it's no stretch to say that his coaching and usage of Flip Murray last season is perhaps his best work to date.  If he can treat Jamal Crawford the same way, Crawford could be a very useful piece next season.

Very quickly, here's a few things I could see happening going forward:

1) Hawks resign Mike Bibby, resign Marvin Williams, draft a PG at 19, and use Jamal Crawford in the Flip Murray role-this is probably the best things the Hawks can do going forward if Bibby can be signed inexpensively.  But the best case scenario still doesn't leave the Hawks under the cap, and they'd have a tough time filling out the roster with just the MLE and LLE.

2)  Hawks resign Flip Murray, resign Marvin Williams, start Jamal Crawford at PG, and draft someone who never gets a chance to shoot-please no.  This is about the worst possible thing the franchise could do at this point.  Flip is certainly more affordable than Bibby, but he's not a PG, and neither is Crawford, and having both of them would make my eyes explode.  And, as I've said before, Crawford is not a point and shouldn't be asked to pretend he is.

3)  Joe Johnson moves back to PG while Crawford starts at SG-I'd actually hate to see this too.  Joe Johnson is kind of the PG by default on this team since he just dribbles all the time, but we've already tried this and it's basically a failure.  I'd love to know what this team could have been last year if Joe had more of a PG mentality, but any scenario where he and Crawford are starters is just complicating the problem that there's only one ball.

Looking forward to see what happens in the draft tonight.

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