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Jordan Crawford: Celtics’ Most-Tradable Asset?

 

Brandon Bass.  Courtney Lee.  Gerald Wallace.  Kris Humphries.

This was the “most-likely to be wanted/traded” list before the season started.  Now, that list is just one name long: Jordan Crawford.  After assuming the starting point guard duties a few games into the season, Crawford has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.  Crawford’s averaging 13.1 points (3rd), 29.1 minutes (4th), and 5.2 Assists (1st) per game.

The numbers are impressive for a player who, before this year, was considered a volatile scorer whose spots needed to be hand-picked for him.  Even with that short leash, any injection of Crawford would be accompanied with many crossed-fingers.  What’s really dropping Boston jaws is not Crawford’s ability, but the fact that the Celtics are winning without the slight hint of locker room disharmony.

Last night Crawford had one of his better, more complete games as a Celtic.  His trade value stuck in your eye like leaf dust on a windy day.  Not just because he scored a game high 25 points, but because he did it against the Bucks biggest offseason acquisition OJ Mayo.  Crawford’s season is absolutely demolishing Mayo’s.  According to Basketball Reference, Crawford’s offensive rating (109) is more then ten notches higher than  Mayo’s (94) and they have roughly the same usage rate.  In other words, Crawford is doing so much more for the Celtics offense than Mayo even though they both have similar levels of offensive responsibility.  Still confused?  Okay, Crawford and Mayo both go Jermaine Dupri and say to you, “throw me the ball and watch what I do with it.”  Only with Crawford, you’re watching longer.

Did I mention Crawford’s making a quarter of what Mayo’s making?  This Crawford/Mayo juxtapostion is a perfect example of how hype and perspective is a double-edge sword. Mayo has been hyped ever since he was in High School and has never really become that number one option.  Meanwhile, Crawford is over-coming the perception that he’s a high-volume shooter for bad teams.

Who would have thought Crawford would be a candidate for Celtics’ MVP (Jared Sullinger probably still takes that crown) and that the team would be actually winning at this point in the season after seeing him talk to trash to Carmelo Anthony while he still had his shooting shirt on?  Certainly not me.

  • YouSerious?

    This is a nice write-up, but I don't like the title here because, well, why not keep such a great asset? I have a big problem with the idea of trading valuable assets that are producing for unknowns (picks). For example: when Seattle traded Ray Allen for the 5th pick in the draft (Jeff Green), who ultimately got the better deal there? Green never hit his ceiling with Seattle (though honestly, he hasn't here either…yet!), while Ray Allen became one of the key pieces that made the Celtics a contender for multiple years.

    Now, of course, Crawford is no Ray Allen, but do you know how long fans have been waiting for the Celtics to have a second point guard on this team to help when Rondo sits?? The first four names mentioned in this article are all players I wouldn't mind trading, but Crawford at this point in time is far more valuable to US than any of them.

  • john

    Keep Crawford the dude is having a monster year. If Celtics trade anyone let it be player's that are not playing.(simple)

    • Dean

      Wallace and Humphries for Asik. Sully and Bass at PF,Asik and Vitor at C, Crawford and Rondo at G,Green and Oly at SF , can you say deep playoff run?

  • swissflix

    I don't want Crawford to be traded! WOW, i said it!

  • swissflix

    Besides: Why trade anyone at the moment?

  • The Cardinal

    Brendan, hush yo' crazy talk. Crawford should be part of this team for a very long time. When Rondo returns, he can easily become the type of sixth man and occasional spot starter that the Celtics would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. I can't think of 5 backcourt players in the league who are more versatile or better suited for such a role.

  • Bear 73

    Just like a stock; buy low , sell high . As soon as Rondo can play real minutes Crawford goes. I like Lee as the 3rd guard anyway. Of the other 4 , sell Bass . This opens more minutes for Chris and Chris & Wallace work better with Sully. The three run , they move, ; don't stand around waiting to go 1 on 1 and they hit the offensive board as a team.

  • CG12

    I wouldn't be averse to keeping Crawford, but he may be playing his way into a larger pay day. Depending on the way the C's want to go, you trade Crawford for an expiring contract and some picks, while reducing the chance of winning this season, in order to get a better pick next year. My guess is that they would like to keep him, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him go, and it wouldn't break me up that much. Don't get attached to pretty much anybody but Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk at this point.

    • YouSerious?

      You're being overly optimistic if you're thinking that any team would trade an expiring contract and picks for a player who's history has spoken for him except for this season. Crawford is valuable to the Celtics for what he brings, but is a contender or playoff-aspiring team going to look to acquire him, or a more solid, steady player who brings you exactly what you think he would (like Courtney Lee)?

      This team has a few players worth keeping around. Rondo, Crawford, Sully, Green, Bradley, and Olynyk are all players worth holding on to (Brooks could be added if we ever get to see what he could do with some real minutes). You need athletes and role players to win. The only players that can carry a team of bench players are the highest tier superstars (Lebron, Durant, Chris Paul), and getting a player like that is never a sure thing in the draft. We have some solid starting caliber players in Sully, Crawford (so far in this season anyway), and Green, a role player (who could possibly become a solid starter) in Bradley, and an All-Star in Rondo.

      The team right now would have great success if you just add another all-star talent. Trading away all of your good players for nameless draft picks can blow up on you. Look at the Cavs: all the high picks in the world the last few years…and nothing to show for it. Kyrie might be great on offense, but that team is still terrible.

      • can't tell you

        Here's the problem: Rondo and JC play the same position. I agree that JC has greater value to BOS than other teams. And I agree we should keep him. But if BOS can get a true, elite center for the one and only all-star on their roster, they should do it, because JC has blossomed under Stevens (didn't see that coming, but it's true), and there is no reason to have one of those two riding the pine when you don't have an NBA caliber 5. I think I like this team w/o rondo but with a great 5 more than I like it with Rondo and that big hole at the 5. Yes, KO and JS are keepers, but neither is really a 5. KO might be one day, but not yet. (And yes, KO and JS essentially play the same position too, but I like them in a 3-big rotation with an elite 5.)

        • YouSerious?

          Crawford was originally a shooting guard. He could start at the 2, or you could have him come off the bench and be a sixth man. Having a potent sixth man is pretty nice.

          As for the idea of trading for an elite big, that's great, but what big in the league who you consider elite would be available for the Celtics?

          Roy Hibbert is locked up, Cousins is locked up, the Grizz have Conley (logjam at the position if you trade Rondo), Howard is locked up, Drummond and Anthony Davis won't be going anywhere, and I don't think a player like Noah would be enough for this team (He's a good passer and elite defender, but I don't like him on offense), and Asik for Rondo is a terrible value for us (plus, again, no offense).

          This team's offense isn't very pretty to watch sometimes. Crawford is doing a great job, but he is not the same caliber of a point guard that Rondo is. An elite big man can swing a team's hopes far more than a point guard, but that's why all of them are locked up with the teams that originally got their hands on them, and ELITE bigs that give you something on offense as well as defense are just a rare breed in the NBA right now.

  • janos

    this guy have the one onlyroll is keep seat warm rondos then is go back away let rondos play most

  • Emg

    I could rondo and Crawford being an odd fit on court.

  • hax

    Hollinger's playoff odds machine is out.
    50.8% odds of Celtics making the play-offs currently.

    Sure things can change. But things can also get better when Rondo returns.
    In other words, tanking isn't really happening like some visioned.
    Meaning we shouldn't trade good assets! Should keep building what we have, trade the bad contracts, make some good draft picks, and start going for #18.

    • the man

      nothing wrong with trading good players – especially if you have log-jams at certain positions and holes at others. You don't get good players back if you send out scrubs.

  • ronnie

    rondo #1 Crawford#2 pressey is no nate robinson.

  • The Cardinal

    I'm really curious so let me ask the "trade Crawford" crowd – who exactly do you believe the C's could obtain for him who could help the team more over the next few seasons?

    Even presuming his market value continues to rise (let's say to the $5 – $8 million range for kicks and giggles), who in this league that the C's could realistically hope to trade for would be a better bargain or a better fit for what Danny and Coach Brad are trying to do? How many truly versatile guards are out there who can play both the 1 and 2 well enough to start at either one?

    It's pretty obvious that he's happy here and his teammates, coaches and management are happy with him. He continues to surprise many of the fans because he hasn't lived down to the one-dimensional caricature some in the media have painted him to be. What's not to like about his hustle, his desire to do whatever the coaching staff has asked of him, his competitiveness, his protectiveness of his teammates, and his talent?

    No less an authority than Tommy Heinsohn loves this kid, so that alone should tell the faithful something.

  • Jim

    Crawford is proving to be a valuable asset who can make passes , dribble without turning the ball over and score . If he can work on his defense and improve there we really have someone. I for one hope we keep him. I like his game!

  • Ray Leighton

    Here's a really shocking statistic — I'm a big believer in production differential as an estimate of a player's ability/value. I've used it very successfully to predict playoff outcomes. Without going into all the details, production differential involves taking a player's production, and subtracting his opponents' production (while the player is on the floor), and then scaling the results to 48 minutes. For example, if you are a point-guard, then while you are on the floor, the number compares your numbers vs. the opposing point-guard. This is then calculated for an entire season. The number takes into account both offense and defense, and it also takes into account pretty much every basic stat. For comparison, MVP-level players like Lebron or Durant will be over +15, legitimate All-NBA types will be over +10, anyone getting serious all-star consideration ought to at least be over +7. Most good starters ought to at least have positive numbers, although obviously many starters in the league don't. The top-30 players in the league will all be around +7 or higher. At the moment, Jordan Crawford's production differential = 8.4, which is the 19th best in the league. No other East point-guard even comes close (John Wall is at 5.7 — this may seem like a shock but while Crawford is not a good defender, Wall is an absolutely awful defender and he gives up a LOT of points) and almost everyone else in the top 30 this year is someone that has gotten all-star consideration at some point. You can sometimes get anomalous results if a player is not a starter, but if you are looking at starters — and Crawford is starting — then production differential is pretty reliable. Admittedly, the East is awful this year, and seasons is only a quarter over, but at the moment, Crawford is the best point-guard in the East. As The Cardinal noted above, what exactly are we going to get back for him in a trade that would give us his production?

    • just saying

      interesting post. thanks for sharing. i wonder about your methodology as it relates specifically to guards, because who is the "opposing player" in situations where the 2 defends the 1, which is usually the case with BOS, and a lot of teams for that matter. I think this may be distorting your results a lot because JC is getting credit for AB's on-ball defense, which is among the very best in the league. It's kind of obvious if you look at the normal +/- for JC. It is often the one stat that makes you doubt him.

      • Jim

        Bradley's on ball defense can be the best in the league at times but he seems to me to be a streaky defender as well as shooter. The shooting can be expected but his defense sometimes is not very good.. Some of the slower guards he can cause real havoc but the ones with speed he seems to have problems.

      • Ray Leighton

        That's a very good point. I don't collect the data; it's off Hollinger's website. However, if you look at the breakdown, the data collectors frequently list Crawford as the 2-guard when he is playing alongside Avery, which makes me wonder if they are basing this not specifically on position, so much as who the player is actually covering. If that is the case, then the result would stand. I will have to go over to Synergy, and take a look at their numbers by possession for Crawford, and see how he stacks up defensively. There are potential problems with that as well (doesn't take assists into account), but they assign the defender at the start of the play.

  • Ray Leighton

    OK, back with the Synergy data. Jordan's overall defensive points per possession = 0.87, which ranks 169 out of all NBA players. Obviously not very good, but for comparison, here's the data for some other point guards in the East: Wall, 0.82 (95th rank); Irving, 0.83 (111); Teague, 0.84 (126); Walker, 0.81 (88). So not great defensively, and Synergy uses the defender at the start of the play, i.e., if a guard loses someone on penetration, they still get "credit" for blowing the play, rather than punishing the rim-protector who comes over to help. Btw, Avery Bradley is also at 0.83 (111) but to be fair, I know that Avery's numbers were horrible for the first few games when he was playing at the point (he wasn't even ranked in the top 200, so his defense has improved tremendously during the season), and of course, he always gets the tougher defensive assignment. So it is possible that some of Jordan Crawford's production differential is a function of the wrong defensive assignment on the part of the data collector, but my general point is that Jordan's overall numbers are a lot better than anyone expected, and certainly good enough to compare with a lot of current point-guards.

    • just saying

      Thanks again for your analysis. I agree with your conclusions on JC and comments on AB. Just curious, do you do this for fun or to make wagers on the games?

  • bleedGREEN

    Now if we can just have him play defense.

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