Monday night the Wizards competed without Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard and Andray Blatche—roughly $32 million, 55-percent of the team’s payroll. It felt great. I haven’t had this much fun watching a Wiz game in months.
Yes, John Wall was spectacular in the first half, as Kyle points out in video form. But my excitement and interest can be traced to exactly one player, Jordan Crawford.
Crawford, a skinny combo-guard out of a mid major conference; the kid with the slightly hunched posture, a wide, loose handle and a perpetual look of %$@! the world on his face. You may know Crawford for banging on LeBron James or for his eye-popping pull-ups in the NCAA tournament. He’s also the one who ditched Indiana after his freshman year when Kelvin Sampson was fired, deciding to rebuild his reputation in the A-10. The one who came with character questions—would he focus? was he mature enough?—but also an unquestioned hunger. The one who’s made a name for himself gambling on his own guts and repeatedly come up cash.
Crawford isn’t a very good player yet. He’s a streak shooter (the positive parlance for inconsistent) who turns the ball over too much and takes other foolish risks.
But oh, does he want it. He plays with a fire that also smolders in his rookie backcourt mate, John Wall. With an energy that borders on fury, the same emotion Wall has expressed in barely veiled statements about his teammates’ lack of effort.
Perhaps it comes from always being a top Detroit prospect’s too short little brother. It’s the kind of enthusiasm so blatantly lacking in the play of Andray Blatche. It’s the kind of spark that gives a fan slogging through a hopeless season hope for next year, or even next game. The kind of reckless love of competition that one wishes would infect JaVale McGee’s body language like a reverse Monstar talent drain. Because Crawford, like Wall, is an irrepressible bundle of potential energy—his passion wills forth excitement, interest, and affection from the crowd.
Of course, those Wizards absent from Monday’s dysfunctional thriller will eventually all return. Jordan Crawford and his rookie brethren will see far less of the court, and the team will likely be no worse for their absence. After all, these youngsters really aren’t all that good, in the final analysis. In Monday’s heart-stopper, Crawford played 44 minutes, scored 25 points on 25 shots (1-10 on 3-pointers) and had a minus 3 plus/minus rating.
But he makes plays. Forget the cool as a sea cucumber baseline pull-up that forced overtime, when is the last time you saw someone make two clean steals on consecutive OT possessions to rescue a sickeningly stagnant offense?
I know they won’t win many games, but I’ll take my chances with Wall, Crawford, Booker, Seraphin and McGee.
Because you know what? Even with all the veterans healthy, what’s the Wizard’s ceiling? I certainly don’t see them in next year’s playoffs.
Stop talking about a soon to be realized bright future. Guys like Crawford give Wizards fans a reason to believe they should care about the Wizards right now.