Usually when you play in a major conference and you win the Player of the Year Honor in that conference, you are going to rank pretty high on draft boards. Such was not the case for Allen Crabbe, who in fact did bring home Pac-12 Player of the Year honors in his junior season at the University of California. A Cal product has brought home this honor three of the last four seasons and Crabbe is hoping his professional career goes better than the previous winners — Jerome Randle and Jorge Gutierrez both spent their rookie seasons in the D-League.
Crabbe is an interesting prospect who can wow you one minute and leave you thinking “this guy won player of the year??” the next. His inconsistency is the main reason he dropped to the 31st overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft. Originally he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers and then Neil Olshey and Co. offered two future second-round picks to pry him away from the Cavs.
Here are Crabbe’s numbers from all three years at Cal:
As you can see Crabbe was a starter from the jump and steadily increased his production in all major categories as he progressed in his college career. The one thing that jumps out at me is his 3-point percentage — he is touted as a dead-eye shooter, but his percentage dropped significantly his junior season even though his overall field goal percentage went up. His career percentage of 38.2 percent would put him right around 47th best in the NBA last season for qualified shooters (right on par with sniper Ryan Anderson). The kid can definitely shoot and that’s the reason Olshey and Blazers felt the need to trade up to get a first-round talent at the top of the second round.
So, why did everyone in the first round pass on a 6’6″ catch-and-shoot expert without batting an eye? The knock on Crabbe has always been his lack of playmaking ability and his shortcomings on the defensive end of the court. Many times watching Crabbe you forget he’s even on the court; which rarely happens when you are considered at most times, the best player on the court. The same way he disappeared on offense, he also did the Houdini act on defense as well. In today’s NBA — unless your name is Kyle Korver — you better be able to play both ends of the court. Sure they are still specialists out there, but if a team can find a guy who can play defense and shoot almost as well as a specialist, then they are playing that guy (enter Wesley Matthews).
If Crabbe wants to earn minutes for this Portland Trail Blazers squad, he needs to shore up his defense first and foremost. Coach Terry Stotts has made it clear that defense is the main focus coming into the season and laziness will certainly not be tolerated. Luckily for Crabbe he has time to develop his playmaking abilities as he has one of the best young studs at point guard to do that for him and his teammates.
Crabbe could go down as one of the steals of this draft in a couple years. He isn’t going to be a factor right away, but the Blazers like his shooting ability moving forward — if he can add to his defficiencies he could crack the rotation as the season progresses.
Crabbe’s preseason action Monday night: 24 mins; 6 pts, 6 rebs, 0 asts, 1 stl and 2 blks (2-7 fgs; 1-4 3p; 1-2 fts)