Former Dallas Maverick Jae Crowder is a free agent and may become a sought out guy in a market that could become very lucrative for role players. With so many open roster spots, the Mavericks may have to consider making a run at a player they included in the Rajon Rondo trade.
When the Mavericks drafted Crowder, the SB Nation Dallas blog had this to say about him:
"I couldn't hate this pick more... You know what positive things analysts conjured up to say about this guy? He plays really hard. Wow... Jae Crowder cannot do anything at an NBA level. Not a thing... He's a point forward with no athleticism, an average set/jump shot and a shaky handle."
During his two plus seasons in Dallas, Crowder averaged a mere 4.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 16 minutes per game. Think about those numbers, think about his time as a Maverick, and think about that brutal draft assessment. How are we to the point where Jae Crowder is a free agent worthy of targeting?
After being traded to Boston, he saw an increased role which led to greater production: in 24 minutes he scored 9.5 points while grabbing 4.6 boards. He also became a muse for many Bostonians. "Jae Crowder Might Be a Keeper for the Boston Celtics." "Jae Crowder Delivers on a Promise." "Jae Crowder is Becoming Indespensible." "Resigning Jae Crowder is a No Brainer."
Jae Crowder became a folk hero. All while managing to shoot an abhorrent 28 percent from beyond the arc.
I remain mystified as to how the guy drafted ahead of Draymond Green is somehow an asset worthy of pursuit. He is a "3 and D" player who can only play defense. He's also 6'4", not 6'7" like he's listed in some places. I'm not making this part up. I'm a hair over 6'2" and when I was within three feet of him at NBA Summer League I swear he was not more than two inches taller than I am.
It's one thing to get excited about marginal production when a team is paying him under a million dollars a year. But Crowder has managed to turn the notion of grit into actual dollar signs. Will his value remain when a team is paying him as much as five to seven times more? Crowder is at best a replacement level forward in the NBA. He's not awful, but he also doesn't do much that makes him a particularly desirable player.
Fit with the Mavericks
Here's the rub: Dallas doesn't have any guards signed. Dallas does have some forwards on the roster, but they're either injured (hey, Chandler Parsons), old (sorry, Dirk Nowitzki), or inexperienced (Dwight Powell, who spent most of his minutes in the D-League). So Jae Crowder, despite being objectively mediocre at basketball, could potentially fill a need.
He can play shooting guard and he can play small forward. While he dribbles the way I write (haphazardly, at best), he IS a really solid mover of the basketball. He passes quickly and makes the correct decision within an offensive set. There's real value there that can't be overlooked, even by me.
Crowder also played for Rick Carlisle. In fact, in my memory, he's the only young player outside of Rodrigue Beaubois to earn minutes quickly and stayed within the rotation. He fell out of it last year because Dallas had a lot of options at both guard and forward before he was sent to Boston. Understanding what it takes to play for a demanding coach like Carlisle is pretty important, particularly with the roster turnover.
Also, Bobby Karalla of Mavs Outsider SWEARS on Crowder's ability:
@KirkSeriousFace 67th percentile in the league in offensive PPP! 96th percentile as the P&R roll man! Give it up, Henderson. It's aaall over— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) June 18, 2015
I'm not sure what this means because Twitter doesn't allow for context, but it's safe to say that Crowder does a few smaller things which have allowed him to stick it out in the NBA.
But for what Dallas is trying to build, Crowder simply is not a good fit. During his 60 games with Boston, his 28.2 percent 3-point percentage was just a hair higher than Al-Farouq Aminu's 27.4 percent from downtown with the Mavericks.. Within the current flow offensive system, Crowder could act as a detriment in a way a player like Aminu did not, simply because Aminu is a taller player and better rebounder.
Will Dallas pursue Jae? I wouldn't be shocked at a three year, $9 million offer. So much of Crowder's "value" is tied to how much he makes right now. Getting him at a slight raise would be nice, because as much as I don't care for him as a player, he's stuck around.
But a return to the Mavs is unlikely to happen. The Boston Celtics LOVE him. Their fans ADORE him (boy, do they hate me on Twitter when I point out some facts about his game). So, I suspect that by the time Dallas gets to rounding out the back half of its roster, Jae Crowder will be long signed.