Better Know a 2012 NBA Draft Pick: Jae Crowder

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15: Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles shoots the ball over Craig Cusick #2 of the Brigham Young Cougars during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Editor's Note: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. Today: Marquette standout and darling of the advanced statistics community Jae Crowder.

PREVIOUSLY: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones, Perry Jones III, Chace Stanback, Tony Wroten.

Team: Marquette

Expected draft position: Late first round or early second round

College career recap: Crowder began his career at Howard College, leading his team to the NJCAA championship and winning National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year. Following his title victory, he transferred to Marquette, having two successful seasons before making First Team All-Big East, winning Big East Player of the Year and declaring for the 2012 NBA draft.

Basic Statistics Per 40 Pace Adjusted, via Draft Express

Year

GP

Min

Pts

FGA

FG%

2PtA

2P%

3PtA

3P%

FTA

FT%

Off

TOT

Asts

Stls

Blks

TOs

PFs

2010/11

37

27.6

16.7

12.5

48.5

8.0

55.5

4.5

35.9

4.8

61.6

3.2

9.6

2.2

1.8

1.2

1.1

3.3

2011/12

35

32.9

20.0

14.2

49.8

8.4

60.2

5.8

34.5

5.3

73.5

2.3

9.6

2.4

2.9

1.1

1.4

3.0

Best attributes: Crowder has an off-the-charts basketball IQ, along with the tools and mental discipline to be a standout NBA defender. Although he's a bit undersized at just under 6'4'' without shoes, Crowder is extremely strong and possesses good lateral quickness, both of which are vital for guarding modern NBA wings. Although he's not particularly explosive, he's an extremely good rebounder who gets a very high number of blocks and steals.

His high basketball IQ also shows up when his passing is examined -- he gets more assists than a typical college small forward, but he almost never turns the ball over.

Biggest weakness: Crowder will most likely never be a big time scorer, at least not in the same vein as the wings who regularly suit up for all-star games. Without much in the way of a midrange game and lacking a dynamite first step, Crowder just doesn't fit the profile of someone who will create a lot of shots in the NBA. Although he scored at a reasonable clip in college, it was as a senior and below the norm for a typical star wing. Moreover, the way he got his points was typically through spot up shooting and his phenomenal off-ball movement, meaning his point totals are going to be directly related to the basketball IQ, unselfishness, and court vision of his teammates.

Why he'd fit in D.C.: Trevor Ariza is a solid player, but he's not Washington's small forward of the future. Crowder does everything well enough that he could play next to anyone, giving Washington a ton of flexibility. On top of this, the Wizards as currently constructed lack a true wing stopper -- Ariza has the reputation of one, but he's always been better playing the passing lanes -- and Crowder has the bulk and smarts to fill that role. His size could hurt him, but Ron Artest and Tony Allen are both a little short in comparison to typical NBA small forwards.

Crowder could also help the Wizards with his offensive game. Despite being considered a weakness due to his inability to create a lot of shots, Crowder's offensive skillset lends itself perfectly to a supporting role in an NBA offense due to his off-ball movement and spot up three point shooting. While his jumper is more OK than good, he should see his efficiency rise even more as he focuses more of his practice time on corner three point shots. And he should be even better inside of the arc -- again, due to his off-ball motion and basketball IQ (detecting a trend here?), he was able to convert about 60 percent of his two-point field goal attempts last year, putting him head and shoulders above the vast majority of college wings, including the ones being discussed as lottery picks.

Why he might not: Time just isn't on Crowder's side. Seniors tend to get overlooked in the draft as it is, and having only played two seasons of NCAA basketball, Crowder doesn't even have the benefit of name recognition that so many upperclassmen enjoy. He's also not very explosive, and while it's been disproved time and time again that players can produce without being great athletes, the ones who make it are usually either extremely good shooters or extremely good ball handlers, neither of which describes Crowder.

Verdict: Take him. Seriously, do whatever you need to. Once the third pick in the draft is done with, Washington's strategy for the night should be focused on picking him up late in the first round if need be.

Comparisons to Shane Battier are a dime a dozen and are commonly trotted out as a way of justifying a lack of production in a young player. Due to his winning pedigree, high basketball IQ, ability to move without the ball, pass, and shoot from the corner, the comparison might actually apply to Crowder. Regardless of who Washington picks on Thursday, a wing who can pass, shoot, rebound, and defend at a high level is going to be extremely valuable.

While Crowder might not be taken in the top ten of the 2012 NBA draft, I'm confident he'll be remembered as one of its top ten best players.

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