Clippers 2015-16 Player Preview: Jamal Crawford


2014-15 Statistics

15.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, .9 SPG, 1.4 TO, 39.6 FG%, 32.7 3PT%, 16.6 PER.

Last Season

Coming off his second Sixth Man of the Year Award, Jamal Crawford came out of the gates at full speed. In November, Crawford averaged an impressive 18.5 points, shot 47.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.

The Los Angeles Clippers were 11-5 heading into December, and Crawford was shooting the lights out like he had done the season before. However, it would not last.

Crawford simply couldn’t buy a basket as the season went on and his shot selection didn’t do him any favors. Always known for his elite handle and ability to create his own shot, his advantages began to work against him.

Apr 26, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford (11) shoots the ball past San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner (15) in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

According to, 43.5 percent of his shots came off three or more dribbles, with a whopping 15.7 percent coming via seven or more. To make matters worse, 44.9 percent of his shots were tightly guarded (between two and four feet).

Although Crawford attempting shots while being tightly defended is no surprise (42 percent last season), his excessive dribbling was a major concern. In 2013-14, only 34.3 percent of his shots came after three or more dribbles.

While Crawford’s raw scoring numbers and ability to create for himself definitely helped the Clippers win 56 games last season, his inefficiency and horrendous defense made watching the second unit akin to an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Every minute was stuffed with the thrill of a hesitation crossover, the horror of another missed jumper leading to easy transition points for the opposition and a seemingly insurmountable lead being slashed in half.

To be fair, Crawford didn’t exactly have much help surrounding him off the bench last year. However, Crawford’s inability to make shots, cut down his attempts or improve other areas of his game reduced his impact.

This Summer

Crawford is known for being a gym rat. That was still the case this summer as he played in multiple pick up games, late night workouts and ProAm leagues. But there was a bit of a twist following last season’s disappointing loss in the conference semifinals, mainly emerging from Twitter:

There were some other cryptic tweets throughout the summer and Crawford admitted to being stressed over the rumors this summer, according to Melissa Rohlin of the L.A. Times:

"“There were some stressful points, and there were some points where I was like, ‘You know what, it’s part of the business,'” Crawford said at the team’s first day of training camp in Irvine on Saturday.Crawford is entering his fourth season with the Clippers, and when he looks around at teammates, there are only three faces who have been there since he came to L.A. — DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin."

"“I guess I’m one of those four guys who have been here, so obviously I’m where I’m supposed to be,” Crawford said."

There were unconfirmed rumors that the Clippers were shopping Crawford, that the Knicks were interested and that the acquisition of Lance Stephenson meant he would be traded before training camp. True or not, Crawford is still around.

2014-15 Highlights

Early in the season, Crawford was on a tear reminiscent of his play the year prior. He scored 20+ points in nine of the first 16 games, and scored 19 in two others.

His best game came during a February 21 meeting with the Sacramento Kings. Crawford poured in 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field to go along with six assists.

Crawford’s highlights aren’t going to be noteworthy in the box score anymore. He still has the mindset and ability to score 40 points on any given night, but considering the talent around him and his inability to get to the basket he is better off playing a supporting role.

He still has plenty of moments where he nails a four-point play, crosses a hapless defender up off the dribble or nails a three off the dribble over a power forward. However, there wasn’t much to write home about last season, especially when looking back at all the forced shot attempts he hoisted.

2015-16 Season Preview

Despite his faults last season, Crawford was still reliable when playing with a majority of the starters. Substituting Crawford for Matt Barnes with the starting five, placed the lineup 16th overall in offensive rating (118.9), according to

Why is this important?

It shows Crawford’s versatility and efficiency when on the floor with other reliable players.

For example, Crawford posted a 48.5 effective field-goal percentage while on the floor with the other four starters minus Barnes, per NBAwowy. He also scored 1.18 points per possession and 1.13 points per shot.

Those numbers dip considerably (43.1 eFG%, 1.04 PPP, .98 PPS) when Crawford is forced to be the primary shot creator with Chris Paul off the floor. His usage rises, his shooting percentages drop and he is forced to carry too much of the offense.

May 4, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) dribbles against the Houston Rockets in the second half in game one of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Los Angeles Clippers won 117 to 101. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers will be able to surround Crawford with enough talent that he doesn’t need to take on large amounts of creation responsibility or use anywhere near 30 percent of the team’s possessions, as was the case when playing with the second unit.

Crawford will likely play a good amount of minutes with Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson and Austin Rivers. Each of those three players are more than capable of initiating the offense or being used as a focal point to setup Crawford for open looks.

However, the addition of Paul Pierce will also sap some of Crawford’s minutes with Paul and the other starters. Rivers was forced to use Crawford at small forward last season. This season going small will be a luxury.

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It remains to be seen how the new roster additions will impact Crawford’s game. They could allow him more freedom to hunt shots coming off screens, reduce the tilt of the defense towards him and decrease his dribbles per touch.

The flip side of that argument is without the ball Crawford will be reduced to spot-up shooting or forced into bail-out possessions. His overall value might suffer as he clearly enjoys playing with the ball in his hands, unless playing with the starters in crunch time.

This could lead him to jacking shots anytime he touches the ball, knowing that it might be the only time during the possession he has the chance to take a shot or attack off the dribble.

His forecast remains murky, but again, Crawford has proven he can play an efficient role with reduced touches when he has ample talent surrounding him. Hopefully, that scenario plays out this season, because the Clippers need his scoring spark off the bench.

Next: J.J. Redick thinks Blake Griffin is MVP bound