The Mavericks have a knack for identifying hidden talent. One player that the organization quickly fell in love with was former Marquette Golden Eagle, Jae Crowder, who Dallas selected with the 34th pick in the 2012 NBA draft. In today’s game, we’ve all learned that you should never count anyone out. That year, some notable names that were selected in the second round include Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, and Tomas Satoransky.
The Mavericks walked away from draft night having selected Jared Cunningham, a high-flying guard out of Oregon State, Bernard James, a.k.a. “Sarge,” and Jae Crowder. Crowder was the last of the three selections made by Dallas that night, so it’s safe to say there wasn’t exactly a lot of enthusiasm coming from the fans in regards to expectations for his level of play. When it comes to second round picks, you never know if the guy selected is going to provide quality minutes as a role player, turn into a star, or get cut.
In Crowder’s first season, he played seventeen minutes per game and got to start sixteen games. We all know Carlisle and how conservative he can be with rookies, so seeing him give Crowder a shot said a lot about how much he believed in the rookie. Carlisle frequently praised Crowder, saying that he was a hard worker and a team guy.
Crowder developed into a valuable defensive wing with a decent jumper (streaky from three), but he sat behind Richard Jefferson, which is how he ended up becoming a piece in the trade for Rajon Rondo with the Boston Celtics. In his three seasons with Dallas, Crowder averaged just 5 points and 2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, however, a lot of the things he did didn’t show up in the box score.
He went on to play well in Boston, where he became a bit of a cult hero before he was moved to Cleveland, then Utah, and Memphis, and now finally Miami. Carlisle was quoted in an interview before facing off against Crowder in a game against the Jazz saying, “He’s the kind of guy you never want to get rid of or let go in a trade, but things happen in this league and he’s been a winning, productive player at every stop that he’s been.”
Despite moving around a bit, Crowder seems to have found a new home in Miami after being a part of the Andre Iguadala trade back in February. He will be a free agent this summer along with his teammate and well-known Slovenian, Goran Dragic. Miami has some decisions to make in regards to how flexible they want to be with their cap space as we slowly approach the 2021 offseason.
Mavericks fans often look back on the Rondo trade with regret, wishing we would’ve never let Crowder go and had continued to allow him to grow in a Dallas uniform. At the time, fans were so excited about having acquired a big name point guard in Rondo, and most would’ve said that including an aging Jameer Nelson, former second-round selection in Crowder, and a budding player in Brendan Wright was well worth it if it meant getting Dirk a play making point guard that could potentially help him make another run in the playoffs.
We all know how that ended up, but sometimes you’ve just got to take the gamble. Crowder speaks fondly of his time in Dallas and as we know, the NBA is a business. You never know what deals will be on the table as teams try to prepare for that 2021 off season. Crowder may be available, but if he is, I think the Mavericks and the city of Dallas would love to welcome him back to where it all began.