When the Boston Celtics acquired Jordan Crawford in a trade with the Washington Wizards, few, perhaps not even Crawford himself, could have imagined he would be where he is right now. The Celtics gave up next to nothing for the talented combo guard in February 2013, they sent out the expiring deals of Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa, who they had lost for the season to injury and was the only reason the deal was even discussed. He played 27 games for the Celtics in 2012-13 and despite some solid production when he was on the court, former coach Doc Rivers did not trust Crawford in the playoffs, where he managed just 11.8 minutes per game in five contests.
With all the chaos and a complete overhaul of the Celtics roster in the offseason, Crawford seemed to get lost in the shuffle. There were huge concerns over the point guard situation with Rajon Rondo on the sidelines indefinitely recovering from injury and Avery Bradley having struggled to fill that role in the season prior. As the 2013-14 season started, Crawford assumed his familiar role on the bench, but after starting the season with a four-game losing streak, coach Brad Stevens inserted Crawford into the starting lineup and the team has not looked back. The 6’4” guard out of Xavier University had an immediate impact on the team; his energy, scoring and surprising ability to pass the ball seemed to bring the starting lineup together and immediately resulted in a shocking four-game win streak.
Crawford has rewarded Stevens’ faith in him by producing career best numbers across the board. His 13.9 points, 5.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game are all career highs and his numbers jump to 14.8, 6.0 and 3.5 since entering the starting lineup. The most impressive and improved aspect of Crawford’s game, however, has to be his shot selection. Rightfully viewed as a “gunner” or “chucker” in his first couple of seasons in the league, Crawford is now also shooting career best percentages in field goals (.464), 3-pointers (.402) and free throws (.887) this season, showing growth as a both a playmaker and a scorer. He has also reached the double-digit mark in assists on three occasions already this season, including a triple-double in a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
To top off Crawford’s hot start to the season, the 25-year-old guard caught fire last week and after leading the Celtics to a perfect 3-0 record he was awarded with his first career Player of the Week Award. In the three victories, which came over the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks, Crawford averaged 23.3 points, 6.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds and made four 3-pointers a game. He shot better than 60 percent from the field and made 50 percent of his attempts from downtown. He made a career-high six 3-pointers as the Celtics beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden and has been absolutely tearing up the competition of late.
Prior to the season the Celtics were expected to be one of the worst teams in the entire league, instead they currently lead the Atlantic Division and with All-Star Rajon Rondo set to return they appear to be a playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference. Similarly, prior to the season Jordan Crawford was a name that few were paying any attention to. On his third team in just four seasons, it seemed he was set to become the next in a line of talented scorers whose poor efficiency and shot selection saw them relegated to the bench for their entire career. Crawford has been one of the league’s most improved players throughout the first quarter of the 2013-14 season and winning his Player of the Week Award 20 games in proves that his early performances were no fluke.
As the Celtics rebuild after the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the offseason, we know that no one on the roster is safe as general manager Danny Ainge looks at any and every deal to improve his team. With questions over his security this season, the return of Rajon Rondo at some stage and a pending free agency in the offseason, the future is far from clear for Jordan Crawford, but he is doing everything he can in the present to prove he is a legitimate starter in the NBA and can help his team win games.