Player Spotlight: Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford, best known for breaking defenders ankles and winning 6th man of the year awards, is one of the many gems from 2000’s basketball. Playing with a combination of street ball and high NBA IQ, Crawford put together a 20 year career filled with countless highlights.

But before he became a fan favorite and lethal NBA scorer, Crawford got off to a shaky start to his NBA career.

Chicago Bulls (2000-2004)

Jamal Crawford’s NBA journey started when he was selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. Despite entering the league as a top prospect, Crawford’s rookie season would be a disappointing one. He struggled with his shot, shooting only 35.2% from the field in his 61 games played. For the season, he averaged a weak 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.

His sophomore campaign wouldn’t be better as he was limited to just 23 games played with an injury. However, in the limited playing time, Crawford did show signs of improvement. He increased his play across the board averaging 9.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He also made 44.8% of his attempts from three point range.

Crawford’s third season would be a continuation of his progress made in his sophomore campaign, but not quite at the level of play you expect from the 8th overall pick. He up 10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1 steal in 80 games played on the 30-52 Bulls team. Not much to write home about.

It was in his fourth NBA season that Crawford grew into the player we all know and love. With the promotion to the starting shooting guard, Crawford averaged 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. It was also in this season that we would see the first break out scoring performance by Crawford. Crawford scored 50 points, including 6 made three pointers, and 24 4th quarter points, against the Toronto Raptors on April 11, 2004. The 50 point game would be Crawford’s way of saying goodbye to Chicago as he would play his last game with the team just a few days later.

New York Knicks (2004-2008)

MEMPHIS – APRIL 2: Jamal Crawford #11 of the New York Knicks looks across the court during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 2, 2008 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies won 130-114. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Despite escaping the lousy Bulls team, Crawford would not escape losing. Crawford joined the New York Knicks, another team lost since its “glory days” of the 90’s. He started in 67 games in his first year in New York, averaging 17.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. While being a part of a whole lot of losing, Crawford did have bright moments, like a night against the Charlotte Bobcats. Crawford dropped 41 points on an efficient 17 of 25 shooting.

In his second season in New York, Crawford was asked to take the 6th man role and he embraced it fully. In his new role, Crawford numbers took a slight hit but still averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. However the Knicks didn’t improve and finished with a 23-59 record.

The 2006–2007 season would be another year where Crawford battled injuries, limiting his play to 59 games. When on the court, Crawford was very productive, posting 17.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

The 2007–2008 season would be Crawford’s final full season in New York, and it was an impressive one. On January 26, 2007, he scored a career-high 52 points, including 16 consecutive shots made, and 8 three-pointers. He finished the campaign averaging 20.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 5assists per game.

Crawford would spend the first 11 games of the 2008-2009 season in a Knicks jersey before being traded to Golden State for Al Harington.

Golden State Warriors (2008-2009)

During his 54 game tenure in the Bay Area, Crawford thrived in Don Nelson’s run-n-gun offense. The system allowed Crawford to showcase all of his abilities; to shoot threes, handle the ball, and facilitate. Once again in the starting role, Crawford averaged 20 points and 4.4 assists. On December 20, 2008, Jamal Crawford dropped 50 points in a 110–103 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. He joined Wilt Chamberlin, Bernard King, and Moses Malone as the only players to score 50 points with three different franchises.

Despite his flawless fit, the Warriors missed out on the playoffs and traded Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks (2009-2011)

For the first time in his career, Jamal Crawford would play for a winning franchise. The Hawks were coming off back to back playoff appearances and viewed Crawford as a vital addition. Backing up All-Star guard Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, Crawford averaged 18points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2assists off the bench. For the first time in his career, he would take home 6th man of the year honors.

By making the playoffs, Crawford broke his own record as the longest tenured player to not play in a playoff game. He would make up for lack of past experience by leading all scorers with 22 points in the First Round Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Hawks would go on to lose in the next round to prime Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

In his second season with Atlanta, Crawford saw his numbers take a hit with a new offensive system in place. However the team’s success wouldn’t waver. The Hawks finished as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference and matched up with the Orlando Magic in round 1. The Hawks would get their revenge with a big help from Crawford. In game 3 of the series, Crawford hit a game-winning three-pointer with six seconds left on the clock. However the Hawks would once again be bounced out in the second round, this time by the Chicago Bulls.

Portland Trailblazers (2011-2012)

During the lockout shortened season, Jamal Crawford signed a one year deal with the Portland Trailblazers. In his one season in Portland, he played 60 games averaging 14 points a night, leading the league in free throw percentage. Unfortunately the Blazers missed the playoffs and the stint was over rather quickly.

Los Angeles Clippers (2012-2017)

Jan 18, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) and guard Jamal Crawford (11) celebrate during an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Rockers 140-132 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It usually doesn’t take until age 32 to find a home, but Crawford didn’t have the prototypical NBA journey. Los Angeles would be the only place Jamal Crawford could call home for more than 4 years, and he made the most of it.

In the 2012–13 season, Crawford posted 16.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists in 29 minutes off the bench. He would finish 2nd in the 6th man of the year voting to J.R Smith. However Crawford’s good regular season wouldn’t translate to the postseason that year as he averaged just 10 points in the first round exit against the Memphis Grizzlies.

During the 2013–14 season, Crawford made history. By averaging 18.6 points per game off the bench, Crawford set the record for most ppg by a bench player. The voters recognized Crawford’s good play, naming him the 6th man of the year for the second time in his career. The Clippers finished with a franchise best 57 wins, but not much playoff success followed.

Over the course of the final three years as a Clipper, Crawford’s production steadily declined, but he stayed efficient. Even more impressive, Crawford stayed healthy at the ages of 35 and 36, playing in 79 and 82 games.

His Clipper career would come to an end after 2017, as the team embraced a youth movement and retooling.

Minnesota Timberwolves (2017-18)

At the age of 37, Crawford took his talents to a young and talented Timberwolves team. He brought veteran leadership and consistency off the bench. He was rewarded with the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, for his efforts.

For the season he averaged 10.3 points on 42% shooting from the field. This marked the 16th consecutive season averaging 10+ points per game.

Phoenix Suns (2018-19)

PHOENIX, AZ – APRIL 5: Jamal Crawford #11 of the Phoenix Suns leaves the floor following the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 5, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

While Crawford hasn’t announced his retirement, and remains a free agent, it is possible the last time we see the 6th man legend play is in a Suns jersey. If it was the last time he takes the NBA floor, he left on a high note.

In the final game of the season, and Dirk Nowitzki’s final game ever, Crawford almost stole the show. At the age of 39, Crawford dropped 51 points, making him the oldest player to eclipse the 50 point mark. It also broke the record for most points off the bench.

Accolades:

6th Man of the Year: 3x

Record for most points off the bench: 51

50 point Games: 4x

Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award: 1x

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