Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner churned out a blog post today called "The Jordan Crawford Question." The specific question seems a bit unclear to me, but it seems like it breaks down into two parts. First, does Crawford's style fit in well with John Wall? Second, what does Crawford's progress this year mean for his future with the roster?
The first question is one I've seen raised a lot on this site. It's a fair point, in that Crawford does dominate the ball a lot. I'm not suggesting that Wall and Crawford are a great match by any means. But Wall's response ultimately merits a closer look.
A lot of people criticize him for taking bad shots, but that's just the type of player he is. Some shots are going to be bad, but he makes those tough shots. That's just how his game is. With him being a scorer, we really need that right now, especially at the guard positions.
A lot of this, to be fair, is just a teammate defending one of his own. Just because you can make tough shots doesn't mean you should take tough shots. But the last sentence is interesting. It's important to differentiate between a bad Crawford shot and a bad Crawford shot with the clock running down. As Wall noted, this team lacks shot creators. Crawford is a shot creator, even though many of the shots he creates are bad ones. This is more tolerable when there are five seconds on the shot clock than when there are 15. It's also more tolerable when Crawford makes a quick decision instead of holding the ball and killing time, or when he drives all the way to the basket. The Wizards know this and it's important when considering Crawford's merits.
All this is to say that I don't think it's quite as simple as saying "Give Wall more flat shooters instead of ball-dominant combo guards, and he'll succeed." Sometimes, Crawford takes tough shots because Crawford is making poor decisions. Sometimes, he does it because he has to. All in all, I don't think making him a reserve for eight games really is going to change anything.
All that leads to the second question, though, which strikes me as less of a big deal that it might seem.
The tricky part is, how will his play affect how the Wizards value him when the draft comes around? If the Wizards don't land the No. 1 pick in next month's lottery, they'll have to consider whether or not to select Florida scoring guard Bradley Beal.
That addition would almost certainly stifle Crawford's progress in the same way that playing behind and with Young did.
Well, maybe. Development is weird, things happen. But definitely not "almost certainly." Remember, Crawford was just as bad to start the season when he was in the lineup and Young was coming off the bench. He also was moved to backup point guard, which temporarily hurt his progress. Finally, a huge element of Crawford's struggles was that he and Young were such similar players, making each easier to defend and more difficult to teach because they were always being compared to each other. I don't see why it's a certainty that Crawford will struggle with a bench role in the future if that's what happens (and I think it should).
More to the point: whatever happens with Crawford, it doesn't really matter that much. You could write this same sentence with Trevor Booker and Thomas Robinson, Chris Singleton and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kevin Seraphin and Andre Drummond, Jan Vesely and anyone ... the list goes on. Sub in free agents, and the cycle repeats itself. It's a necessary reality when rebuilding around a surplus of young talent. The second you worry about stifling one young player by adding another, you're staying still as a franchise. You have to make talent upgrades where applicable and let the best man win. Shooting guard is one of those spots for this team.
The Wizards and Crawford could both succeed in a world where Crawford is coming off the bench. That day isn't today, but there's no reason to be worried about getting to that point. It's going to happen anyway, and things will work itself out one way or the other.