After playing just one season in Ann Arbor, Jamal Crawford has become one of the most successful NBA players to come out of Michigan along with with Glen Rice, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, and Chris Weber. Crawford has thrived in the NBA by becoming an elite scorer off the bench and being one of the best at creating his own shot, especially at the end of the shot clock.
Today, we flashback at Crawford's brief career at Michigan, take a look at his long NBA journey to this point, and see what the future has in store for the 16-year veteran.
Jamal Crawford's time at Michigan may be most well known as the post-Steve Fisher era. During his only season in Ann Arbor, Crawford played under Brian Ellerbe in 1999-2000. Some may remember that in his only season as a Wolverine, Crawford played just 17 games as he was suspended at the beginning of his career due to problems with amateurism status. He impressed in those 17 games, however, as he averaged 16.6 points per game, 4.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds.
Crawford's success at Michigan ended with a loss in the first round of the NIT, as Crawford, LaVell Blanchard, and Kevin Gaines lost to Notre Dame. This led to Crawford declaring for the 2000 NBA Draft, where he was selected 8th overall in what turned out to be one of the worst drafts in NBA history.
NBA Career Overview
Crawford began his NBA career playing 4 years with the Bulls and 5 more with the Knicks. While he had individual success, scoring in double figures in 7 of his first 9 seasons, Crawford never reached the post season in his time with the Bulls or Knicks.
In 2009-10, Crawford shot an impressive 38% from deep and averaged 18 points per game off the bench in his first year in Atlanta. He earned his first trip to the playoffs as well as the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award. After playing one more year with the Hawks, Crawford would play one year in Portland before finding a home in Los Angeles with the Clippers.
In his first few years with the Clippers, Crawford continued to excel off the bench, winning another 6th Man of the Year Award in 2014. During that season, Crawford averaged 18.6 points per game in 30 minutes off the bench. Curry is now working on his 14th straight season averaging double digit points as he averages 15.6 points per game for his career. By the end of this season, Crawford will be in the top 100 in NBA history in points scored, an impressive feat for a player who has spent most of his career coming off the bench.
Future Career Analysis
Now in his fourth year with the Clippers, the 35-year old Seattle native is taking on a slightly reduced role playing just 24 minutes per game. This hasn't slowed Crawford's production, however, as he continues to produce off the bench for Doc Rivers averaging 13.6 points per game. Crawford's three point percentage has dropped in his 16th season, as he has shot just 28%. I would expect this number to rise closer to his 35% career percentage as the season moves forward.
Throughout his career, Crawford has amazed fans with his ability to create for himself off the dribble. His flashy crossover rivals Allen Iverson's as one of the best over the last 20 years. While his style of play doesn't seem like one that would come with great longevity in the NBA, Crawford continues to be one of the most feared playmakers in the game. He creates instant offense for the Clippers as soon as he enters the game, which is key for a second unit that struggles scoring at times with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul off the court.
Crawford's career is definitely on the downswing, and he is hanging on because he continues to be able to score the basketball with ease. He's a great competitor and leaves everything he has on the court each night. Don't be surprised if the 35-year old plays another 3 to 4 years in the NBA, and continues to give opposing guards nightmares from his ridiculous crossovers.
In the end, Crawford wants to win, and the Clippers main goal this season will be to find a way to take down the defending champion Golden State Warriors and defending league MVP Stephen Curry. Crawford will be a big piece in solving the puzzle if Los Angeles can do so as he can be an x-factor that can change a couple games around in a playoff series and steal a couple games with his streaky scoring. If he can stay healthy and fresh during the regular season, look for Crawford to try to make a big impact in this years playoffs as he tries to make it to his first ever Conference Final.