Wizards player evaluations for ‘08-09 continue, up fourth is Javaris Crittenton. My thoughts are below, you can check on the full report on Bullets Forever.
I really like the move Ernie Grunfeld made to get Javaris Crittenton, even if he doesn’t pan out. GM Gruns turned an over-hyped 2002 40th draft pick, who probably would have barely lasted with the Wizards, as he did with the Grizzlies, into a still developing/promising young point guard taken 19th in the ’07 draft.*
It’s funny, because I think the Wizards need a long distance shooter like Juan Carlos Navarro aka “La Bomba”. And JCN did hit just under two treys per game en route to making the ’07-08 NBA All-Rookie second team, but got those attempting 5.3 in just under 26 minutes per game. So it’s probably good that the Wiz opted out of a gunner who can’t really play defense. Not playing D should only be reserved for starters like Arenas, Jamison and Butler.
But back to Crittenton. What I do like about him is his ability to push the ball in transition while remaining relatively under control. The kid has crafty handles when moving fast under pressure, and has the length to finish at the rim. Yes, we all want that 20.5 TOV% to go down, and it will as he gets more comfortable with the ball in his hands. It takes a bit to develop that NBA point guard instinct.
Second thing I like about Javaris is his rebounding out the back-court. He seems to have a nose for the ball, a knack for getting short or long misses and turning on the jets in transition. His 5.1 boards per 36 minutes led all guards (well, tied Arenas’ two game per 36 rate), and his 1.7 offensive boards per 36 was a tenth of a point below Darius Songaila and the same amount above Caron Butler. Not sure how Flip Saunders will scheme transition D, and it all depends on situational assignments anyway, but you gotta like when your guard is getting you second chances (just as long as his offensive rebound attempts don’t give up more points than they provide).
The downside …. we’re all going to talk about Crittenton’s jumper. Yep, it needs to improve. And I don’t really care that Dave Hopla, the renowned shooting coach, is gone. Getting better is all on Crittenton … whether he puts in the time, is consistent with his form, and most importantly, has the mental ability to gain confidence via repetition, repetition, and repetition.
On one hand, his FG% improved every month from January to April, going up a total of 4.5%. On the other hand, his eFG% for the entire season on ‘Jump Shots’ (as defined by 82games.com) was a blasted 23.9% … ouch. I’d like to see how Crittenton improved on his jumper from month to month, I’m sure that stat is out there in someone’s computer.
Methinks Crittenton’s ceiling in the league is a decent backup PG. But a lot of guys have made damn good careers playing that role, albeit most all keep teams honest on defense from the perimeter. I’ve heard that Crittenton is an intelligent guy and a very hard worker. That’s great. I’ll be excited to see him in the summer league. However, if we go into next season with Javaris and Gilbert (and perhaps Mike James) as the main guys who can play the point, I won’t exactly be confident in the team’s title contention prospects.
* Grunfeld drafted JC Navarro, but then traded him to Memphis for some obscenely protected first rounder that the Wiz would probably not even seen before the stipulations expired, and then essentially gave that pick back to Memphis for Crittenton as part of the three team deal involving Mike James, Antonio Daniels and the NOLA Hornets.
[photos 1, 2 & 4 courtesy of flickr/Keith Allison]