Another day, another Woj bomb dropping on everyone’s unsuspecting Twitter feeds. Yesterday, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Golden State Warriors were trying to bolster their backcourt and had traded for Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks from the Boston Celtics.
Then the details of the deal began to trickle down: draft picks were involved, it would be a three-team deal, Toney Douglas was gone, the Miami Heat were the third party, the Warriors wouldn’t be sending any first-rounders, Douglas would join the Heat, Joel Anthony would go to Boston and the Celtics would get Miami’s projected future first-round pick (via the Philadelphia 76ers) and a future second-round pick.
There are a ton a details to comb through to fully understand how such a seemingly inconsequential trade is actually a pretty huge deal for all three teams. But the Warriors don’t really care about Boston’s rebuilding process through the draft or Miami’s dedication to trying to re-sign the Big 3 without being annihilated why the repeater tax. No, Dubs fans care about one thing and one thing only: whether or not this trade solves the glaring problem of bench depth, particularly in the backcourt.
It’s no surprise that Golden State has found Steezus with the Reverend Mark Jackson as head coach, but what can Jordan Crawford bring to the table for a backcourt that desperately needs bench scoring to give Stephen Curry a longer breather? For one thing, Warriors fans probably shouldn’t expect Crawford to be anywhere near as efficient as he was at the start of the season in Boston. Although Crawford’s scoring has only dipped from 15.5 points per game in December to 14.3 in January, his field goal percentage plummeted to 35.6 after he was shooting about 43 percent on the season.
“Jordan, we’re trading you somewhere that has very lax standards on what a good three-point shot is.” “You’re trading me to heaven?’
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 15, 2014
Crawford’s 3-point shooting, an aspect of the game the Warriors certainly aren’t shy about, similarly dropped off in January. Granted, Steezus was only shooting 34 percent from downtown before 2014 started, but that number fell off a cliff to 20.7 percent in January. Luckily, the downward spiral in his shooting gave way to his playmaking abilities as a passer: Crawford was averaging 5.5 assists per game this season until he started dishing out seven dimes a game in January.
Let’s not get hung up on criticism, though. Crawford is a major upgrade at the backup point guard spot, a spot the Golden State so desperately needed to improve considering Toney Douglas was completely ineffective in the limited time Jackson would give him. Douglas is averaging 3.7 points, 0.8 rebounds and 11 minutes per game while shooting 37.2 percent from the floor, ALL career lows. Safe to say that if Jackson gives Crawford a chance (which he will), Steezus can be more productive and help out a second unit that has been so bad it may or may not have inspired Golden State’s awesome “full squad” meme.
How bad is that exactly? Here’s some disparity for you: Per NBA.com, the Warriors were outscoring opponents by 4.9 points per 100 possessions entering last night’s game against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a good number, but it pales in comparison to the massive 21 points per 100 possessions Golden State’s starting five outscores opponents by. Simply put, production tends fall apart when the bench is in.
Douglas was put in an uncomfortable position, being asked to handle backup point guard duties when defensive specialist and 3-point shooting skills didn’t really mesh with that role. Jackson’s commitment to rarely mixing starters and reserves is a huge reason a trade like this had to be made, since he could have easily had Andre Iguodala handle backup ball handling duties and let Douglas thrive as a perimeter shooter. However, Douglas was underperforming and no offense to Kent Bazemore or what used to be Marreese Speights‘ competent shooting, but Crawford and the ever-fading potential of MarShon Brooks should boost Golden State’s secondary unit.
This decision could very well have a major effect on how the West plays out in a few months. The Oklahoma City Thunder are deadly as long as Russell Westbrook is healthy, but that’s no guarantee given that he’s had three knee surgeries in less than a year. The San Antonio Spurs are dangerous as ever, but their lackluster record against the West’s premier teams isn’t inspiring. That leaves the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers in the conversation, but you could nitpick those teams to pieces at this point. In other words, the West is very much for the tanking as long as the Warriors stay healthy.
Golden State is still under the tax line despite this deal and they could very easily work another trade if it doesn’t work out. The Warriors sport an impressive 20-5 record with the Steph Curry-Klay Thompson-Andre Iguodala-David Lee-Andrew Bogut starting lineup available, which record ranks among the best in the league. This is an impressive feat considering Curry’s recent shooting struggles, Harrison Barnes‘ inability to take “the step” this season and the putrid bench play from everyone not named Draymond Green (who is mostly a defensive asset and doesn’t do much to boost the bench’s scoring).
If Steezus can be a consistent, or even semi-consistent contributor off the bench, then God bless him. The Warriors are already one of the deadliest teams in the league and they’ve won 10 out of their last 12 games. Most teams live and die by the 3-pointer, but the Warriors are some rare vampire breed that seems be able to do both at the same time. Fans will have to be patient with his seemingly endless isolation plays and poor shot selection, but if Jordan Crawford can put the ball in the hole and serve as playmaker when Curry and the starters need a breather, the Warriors will be that much more dangerous come playoff time.
Missed the rollercoaster possessions. They made me feel alive RT @AndyKHLiu it’s almost as if you’re scared a poor man’s JJack just arrived
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) January 15, 2014