Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Crawford Is This Summer's Vinny Del Negro

If there was a time where Jamal Crawford mirrored former Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, it was in their Game 5 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals.

With 30 seconds left and the Clippers up four points in regulation, Crawford found himself mismatched against Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins. After looking off point guard Chris Paul and failing to give forward Blake Griffin any thought, Crawford blew past Perkins to attempt a beautiful finger roll layup, only for an ugly result. The Thunder would grab the rebound and outlet the ball to Kevin Durant, who would score two of his 27 points.

With two games left in the series and a low likelihood of winning two straight games, it seemed as if that would be the defining possession of the year. Regretfully, it was. Another moment on the momentous list of almost-wins, adding to a calling card the Clippers are all too familiar with… loss.

With the Clippers season coming to a halt after six hard-fought games played against the Thunder, they find themselves facing another summer with major decisions to make. After another abrupt and unexpected end in two seasons, (the first of which resulted in the departure of Vinny Del Negro) without a doubt, his replacement, Doc Rivers, will seek to upgrade the Clippers roster. Although it’s a tough decision to make, it’s time for the Clippers to sail on without Jamal Crawford. Just like Del Negro, the team’s promise has surpassed Crawford’s.

Crawford will command a salary of about $5.5 million over the next two seasons, which is a relatively cheap price for his talent. However just as the Clippers success and ambition outgrew former head coach Vinny Del Negro, their need for consistency and lowered risk has outgrown Crawford.

Crawford is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, and is one of the league’s elite scorers. He’s also 17th all-time in career 3-pointers, one of three active NBA players with at least three games of 50-plus points (Kobe Bryant and LeBron James), third in fourth-quarter scoring (behind Bryant and Kevin Durant), and the league leader in four-point plays.

Therein lies the Clippers issue with the 34-year old guard. It’s not that Crawford isn’t effective, in fact the Clippers put up 27 percent of their regular season average in points while Crawford was on the floor. His natural knack for scoring the ball and creating his own shot makes him attractive for any team in need of a scoring punch, however while most players create easier shots, it seems the majority of Crawford’s are heavily contested.

On the year, Crawford’s usage percentage (the percentage of a teams offensive possessions a player uses while on the court) sat at 27 percent in the playoffs. Chris Paul is at 23.4 percent. That’s a ton of touches and shot attempts for a player not considered to be one of a team’s big three. Possessions that could be considered wasted with every attempt at a four-point play, finger roll or crossover move that’s visibly impressive but has a lower likelihood of changing the scoreboard.

During the postseason, defense becomes double tough. Guys who might typically mail it in for half of their regular season games play with increased intensity. In the regular season Crawford, averaged 41.6 percent in field goals and 36 percent from 3. Most likely that increase in defensive opposition accounts for Crawford’s slight drop to 39.8 percent from the field and 34.2 percent for 3. He was planned for and defended much better.

For a guard who dictates so much of the Clippers offense, it’s the dip in production and poor possessions that the Clippers have to leave behind. It’s an anchor preventing them from sailing further into championship water. To move full speed ahead, they’ll have to rid themselves of the dead weight.

Tags: Jamal Crawford Los Angeles Clippers

  • Michael Dunlap

    Good take here. Crawford is aging and isn’t going to be improving. I thought Redick was going to be the heir apparent.

    • Marcus Bass

      In the Clippers game five loss in OKC, Redick logged six seconds in the fourth quarter. For a team that wanted to milk the clock you’d think constant motion would be in their best interest. I think the Clippers package Crawford and Dudley for an upgrade at the 3. I doubt Danny Granger comes back.

  • Ken

    So its Crawfords fault the Clippers didn’t advance and hes holding them back ?

    In game 5 jamal handed Chris paul a 7 pt lead with 3 minutes left and what did Chris paul did with it . This is not a Vinnie Del Negro session its quite simply fans dont want to admit that Chris Paul basically blew a playoff series .

    I cant even believe someone would basically skip the fact that jamal had half of the teams points since he checked in . On that play he had perkins on him and milked the clock down to the last second and the ball just rolled out . The Clippers still were not down at that point even after Durant scored .

    Chris paul tried to draw a foul on a hail mary shot from nearly full court and somehow its Crawford fault even though he played a huge part in them building the lead and having a chance in the first place .

    In game 6 Crawford barely played 15 minutes ….what happened ? Crawford is not holding the team back Chris Paul and Blake just do not come close to dominating the way that Durant and Westbrook do . I dont see the Clippers going anywhere with Blake and Chris only making 5 fta per game .

    • Marcus Bass

      When you identify a team that’s won a championship with a player who takes the types of shots Crawford does you let me know. I’ll be waiting.

      • Ken

        When you identify me a team that’s won a championship when its best players don’t get to the ft line or gets to the ft line and cant make them .. I can list dozens of reasons teams don’t win a title for all sorts of reasons it means nothing because the scapegoat mentality the article took ignores the very fact that Crawford for as much as you wish to dismiss him helped put Chris Paul in a position that all he had to do was hold the ball and make his fts and he would have a chance to advance to the conference finals by winning a home game .

        That you obviously believe that the Clippers have to have the perfect team around CP and Blake for them to win it what does that say about them ?

        You acknowledge that Crawford is not considered one of the big three but yet you are writing about him and not DJ ? Again the sticking of the proverbial head in the sand because its easier to blame Crawford for at least attempting to step up then it is to call CP out for blowing a playoff series or DJ for not showing up . You mentioned below that JJ only played 6 seconds in game 5 in the 4th but again totally ignore the fact that JJ couldn’t make a basketball at all in game 3 or 4 and was a combined 3-14 heading into game 5 .

        Crawford is not without blame here but this s one of of the more ridiculous hit pieces I’ve seen in a while . Until Blake and CP oh and that 3rd guy DJ can somehow raise and maintain their games to the levels of KD and Westbrook for an entire series and for DJ to show up at all its ridiculous to point the blame at a guy playing 2o mpg coming off the bench who is being asked to constantly bail them out .

        I would would love to know a team that wins a title with stars that have to get bailed out as often as CP,Blake,and DJ.

        • Marcus Bass

          There’s blame to be handed out in many directions, Doc Rivers, CP3 and Griffin however this article was about Jamal. It’s not to suggest he’s not a good player, he’s actually one of my favorites and has been since his days in NY. But it’s hard to argue that when he’s not hitting shots, a team doesn’t get much of a contribution in other areas and that’s not championship caliber basketball, especially for a player that’s such an important piece. His true shooting percentage in the post season was 46 percent compared to a league average of 54, and it’s in large part due to shot selection. If you look at the box scores for the OKC series Paul and Blake actually produced pretty well. Pay attention to the over/under as well. People can fall in love with Jamal’s flashy play all they want, it’s just like people who wanted Bledsoe to start at the 2 when he’s a career 32% shooter from deep. A guy becomes a fan favorite and he’s exempt from criticism. I don’t buy that. He was 7-22 for crying out loud that game. Even IF he’s supposed to be the Clippers offensive weapon off the bench, is that efficient basketball? The season is not completely on him, I’m highlighting a small part of the entire engine that misfired. Period.

  • Bt Ghia

    DJ needs to go. He’s what’s holding this team down. for the amount of minutes he’s on the floor, he should have better numbers. he rarely gets a rebound he has to battle for. he only gets them when they go straight to him or if no one else is near the basket. he can’t hit his free throws and he has no offence other than a dunk. and he’ll blow that lots of times cause he’s got butter fingers. he doesn’t play any defence, he won’t even put his hands up to try to alter the shot! he just watches them shoot , never takes a charge, doesn’t box out….. sure he gets a block here and there. but for the kind of money he’s getting, that big three tag, DPOY talk. there’s a few guys I’d rather have than DJ.

    • Marcus Bass

      Jordan is not an offensive player – In the same respect people never expected Dennis Rodman to shoot a jump shot. People need to understand that DJ is not offensively gifted, period. Not sure how a guy who averaged 10 points and 14 rebounds is the problem.

      • Bt Ghia

        I understand he’s not an offensive player. but if he’s just there to rebound, as big and athletic as he is he should be able to get points off put backs. what did he get in one game 0 pts 4 rebounds. Adams isn’t an offensive player either but he was a factor everytime he was on the floor. unlike DJ