(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Summer league is the ultimate conglomeration. It takes everything that's even remotely basketball relevant, throws it all together, and somehow makes it works. Athleticism, poor shot selection, hard work, and uncontrolled play all slam together to go with a couple million fouls, several last names that have four consonents next to each other, and play-by-play announcers that from the utter lack of any vocal enthusiasm clearly lost their life savings at the machines the previous night. It's a glorious, glorious mixture.
Now, because of that, it's best not to always believe what is seen. Performing great in summer league is still the last highlight in the careers of many players. That may be true, but this summer with the Mavericks, Jae Crowder didn't just make himself seen. No, Jae Crowder made himself FELT.
Follow the jump for the comprehensive break-down of Jae Crowder, as part of the Mavs Moneyball player preview series.
Jae Crowder, who turned 22 in July, is a 6'6" 235lb SF out of Marquette. He was the 2011-12 Big East Player of the Year, beating out players like Jeremy Lamb, Moe Harkless, and Dion Waiters. Here's his college stats:
Note the FG% just under 50. When you factor out three pointers, his 2PT% was over 60. Several things can be drawn from that, starting with 1) that's ridiculously good, 2) he takes quality shots, and 3) he does not utilize much of a mid-range game (it would bring down that percentage, unless he's Dirk, and spoiler alert, he's not Dirk).
Here's video, also. It claims it is a scouting report, although in reality it's just a video of him shooting three pointers. Still, it's about the only thing out there, unless you want to watch an eight minute Marquette highlight video that's he shows up in from time to time.
The buzz about Crowder is that above all, he's a very hard worker who understands the game and will never lack effort. Certainly, from what he showed in summer league, all of that is true. He averaged 16.6 points a game shooting 42% from the field and 37% from deep, while recording 5.4 rebounds, 2 steals, and .8 blocks. Even more impressive were his turnovers and fouls per game at 1.6 and 2.4 respectively. Many players experience elevated numbers from trying to do too much, but those numbers seem to indicate that Jae does indeed have a great basketball IQ.
As mentioned above, summer league stats should be taken with a grain of salt. The more important thing to look for is how his skills will transfer to the NBA. Jae proved his has the ability to take a step back for NBA ranged three pointers, something that some people worried about. Other people have concerns about his size, and while being a tad small might always be a nagging issue, he has shown an ability to play bigger than he really is. He is impressively strong, thanks to his thick build, and has experience banging in the post from Marquette, who would put him at power forward at times.
Crowder still lacks offensive polish and will probably need time to adjust to NBA defenses. He's not all that athletic, compared to the average NBA SF. There are still holes in Crowder's game. Even a high basketball IQ can't get a player to blow by a defender. Doing the little things will impress coaches, but it has to be in addition to some big things, too.
I see a role for Jae on the team next year. I'm not sure it will be as big as some people expect or hope, but I also don't expect him to ride the bench game after game. Everyone knows Carlisle favors veterans, which might exclude him from the rotation against a high-profile Los Angeles or San Antonio team. However, for an everyday game, the dreadlocked rookie could easily find ten or fifteen minutes spelling the 34-year old Shawn Marion. If Vince Carter struggles with his shot, then even more opportunities may arise for the youngster.
Start small, and once Crowder proves himself it's easy enough to expect a bit more, little by little. He seems like a rookie that might be able to jump right into the NBA, but that's what people said about Evan Turner, too. Either way, Maverick fans are in for one hell of a season with Crowder, hopefully to be followed by many more.