DC’s December Darling: Jordan Crawford is 'Simply' Better Than Monta Ellis
[Editor's note: This is Mohamed Abdihakim's debut for TAI. Mohamed blogs at TheHoopDoctors.com and is an editor at Hoops-Nation.com. He is currently working toward a multimedia journalism degree from Florida Atlantic University. —Kyle W.]
82games.com has made available a certain simplified metric.
Belying otherwise extensive research, “Simple Rating” (SR) provides a relatively digestible look into a player’s value on the court versus their positional counterpart. The values used in this rating are Production—”a variant of John Hollinger’s PER”—and a plus/minus unit.
Most of the names on the list come as little surprise. Durant, James, Bryant, etc. But, scroll down for a minute and you’ll see the Wizards’ Jordan Crawford. Yes, his SR (last updated on Jan. 15, 2013) ranks below a ton of players—guards Paul, Parker, Conley, and Lillard to name a few—but, it’s the names Crawford outranks that’s most surprising: Steph Curry, Rajon Rondo, O.J. Mayo, and Monta Ellis.
Crawford’s SR rating, plus-4.4, is higher than that of two elite point guards (plus-3.1 for Curry, plus-2.5 for Rondo) and two elite shooting guards (plus-1.9 for Mayo, plus-1.7 for Ellis), though Mayo is having an elite year. The Xavier product’s production measure is at 16.2, while opposing players at the same position play with a production rating of 10 against him.
With per game averages of 14.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds, Crawford has shown noticeable improvement this season. That’s all good and well, but the question quickly becomes how did Crawford’s SR rating outrank such elite names?
The production rating of 10 for guards opposing Crawford is particularly surprising. Consider this: Guards are putting in over 15 points of total offensive production against Rondo, a defender among the league’s best. Is Crawford just shutting his defensive assignments down?
In the early stages of the season, opposing shooting guards seemed to outdo Crawford, one after the other. Monta Ellis poured in 22 points, five assists, five rebounds, and two steals to Crawford’s eight points and two assists. Ben Gordon answered the D.C. guard’s nine points with 19. Heck, Lance Stephenson and Kyle Korver outperformed Crawford in a largely unimpressive November for the second-year 2 guard.
Then, winter came around. All of a sudden, the Wiz were to be without another point guard. The loss of A.J. Price to injury, a hole at PG already noticeable sans Wall, left the Wizards with little to warm them against the frigid embrace of substandard basketball.
With Shaun Livingston as the only other viable option at PG, Crawford would see increased time at PG for the month of December.
Against Houston, Crawford played 39 minutes at point, adding six assists and eight rebounds to his 17 points. Against Atlanta, instead of getting lit up by Korver, Crawford would answer Jeff Teague’s 13 points and six assists with a 27-11-11 triple-double, the second of Crawford’s career. Against Golden State, Curry’s 22 points and five assists stood pale against the Wiz guard’s 22 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Curry’s plus/minus was at minus-5, Crawford’s at plus-3.
It starts to become clearer how Crawford’s SR jumped above such recognizable names: For a whole month of basketball, he got to face (and torch) guards like Jeff Teague, Greivis Vazquez, Brandon Knight, and Jameer Nelson. Instead of dealing with, say, James Harden when he would go off for 31. Bradley Beal would draw that assignment, and finish with a plus/minus of minus-8. Crawford—dealt the, shall we say, “manageable” task of checking Jeremy Lin— finished at plus-3. Even when Crawford was kept at his SG role (with Livingston at PG), December saw him get outdone on just two instances, against Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
In his month of point guard play, Crawford’s plus/minus was as high as plus-13. With the emphasis placed on that stat, along with general production on the court production, the uptick of Crawford’s Simple Rating was justified.
Unfortunately for Crawford, the return of John Wall looks to upend all of that. With Wall returning, Crawford will be ceding some major playing time to rookie Bradley Beal, as the Wizards look to tinker with the explosive backcourt experiment.
But, boy, oh, boy … after winter averages of 19.1 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.1 rebounds, it was a December to remember for Jordan Crawford.
[When JC was a Hawk...]
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