Wednesday, September 29, 2010
2010-11 Season Preview: Jordan Crawford
This is a positive one.
I have a sneaking suspicion that, if Larry Drew succeeds* as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Jordan Crawford will play a significant role in that success. The Hawks haven't had an athletic guard like Crawford since Mike Woodson used Josh Childress to cover for the lack of a quality point guard. It's not a great comparison. Crawford has a far more traditional game (should it translate to the NBA) than Childress. For that matter, he has a more traditional game than Jamal Crawford, who uses his athletic gifts almost exclusively to create space for jump shots. Jordan Crawford's ability to shoot, to score, and to pass seems a perfect fit for a motion offense.
Unless the Hawks find Jamal Crawford's expiring contract more valuable than Jamal Crawford the basketball player, it will probably be a season until Jordan Crawford fits in the rotation. That's not necessarily a bad thing. In addition to his basketball gifts, Crawford displayed a relative physical frailty in Summer League. He'll be 22 by the time the season starts, but his transfer from Indiana to Xavier means he played just two seasons of college basketball. An early stretch in the D-League wouldn't hurt his development.
That Crawford (like Jeff Teague the year before) is a longer-term prospect gives some hope to those who worry about the organization's commitment to (or even acknowledgment of) the future. In the last two drafts, the Hawks had the opportunity to choose players who could contribute immediately (Darren Collison or DeJuan Blair in 2009, Damion James or Gani Lawal in 2010) but opted for promising players who need (and will have) the opportunity to ripen. Drafting Teague and Jordan Crawford represent the rare long-term decisions made by the organization since they re-signed Josh Smith. Which only further underscores the importance of the young guards to the team's future success.
*Not that Drew's been handed an easy task. The team created the impression, quite possibly true, that he was not the first choice for the job then signed him to a short, cheap contract, and expect him to improve on a 53-win team simply by deploying the same players differently.