Last night's jersey-throwing incident was just the latest in events that have alluded to the eventual breakup of the Wizards and Jordan Crawford. To mentally prepare before the trade deadline tomorrow, the Bullets Forever crew put their heads together to try to figure the best way to move forward in a possibly Steez-free world.
Your participants: Mike, Jeff, BNIE, Jkhan15, Thomas and me:
1. Does Jordan Crawford have a place on this team?
Mike Prada: I think so, if he can prove that his shot selection has improved, his defensive effort is there and he makes passes that lead to assists rather than passes that just are assists. That'll require a transformation, though. The problem is they need him to be a solid two-way guard that can score from two positions, and he's not that.
JKhan15: Hypothetically, yes, a scorer with some ball-handling abilities should have a place on the team. Although John Wall's return to the lineup has improved the offense, this is still a team that needs more firepower. Whether Crawford can actually bring that is another question. To me, the most appealing part of having Crawford around is that his contract is so cheap. I wouldn't bet on Crawford greatly improving in the next few years, but since he only costs $2-3 million, it's worth keeping him around to see.
Bullet Nation in Exile: Does a situational scorer who's improved every year without a sure position and a rookie contract have a place on this team? Uh, yes. Does a malcontent? No. But I'm not ready to categorize him as one. I think the man is just frustrated at watching his minutes disappear after an injury he had no control over. Trade talk getting in his head. Everybody doubting and no minutes to prove himself? What could be worse for a young player? But that is also an opportunity he has to embrace if he wants a future in the NBA as a significant piece. So he has a place on this team, but he still has some growing to do before he deserves rotation minutes on an NBA squad.
Thomas Pruitt: In theory, yes. Crawford can shoot, make plays off the dribble (tenth best isolation scorer in the NBA if I recall correctly) and has all of the tools necessary to have a solid career as a bench scorer. You'd like to see more efficiency from him, but that will come as he improves his shot selection and grows as a three point shooter. Thing is, we don't know if he's willing to grow as a person and a player into the role that Washington needs him to fill. The Wizards don't have the best track record when it comes to dealing with youngsters with attitude problems, so unless Greg Popovich walks through those doors, the answer is no.
Jeff Newman: As everyone else has said, there's always a place for a gifted scorer on any team. Crawford is an efficient ISO scorer who can get his shot off almost anywhere and has actually become a good corner three-point shooter. He's fully capable of filling a key role as a bench scorer or even complementing John Wall in certain lineups. The problem with Crawford isn't his scoring, but everything else about his game. He'll always be limited defensively, but his lack of interest in guarding or even challenging shots clashes violently with this team's identity. Crawford seems like a gifted passer, but his assists typically come off his ISO drivers and rarely within the flow of the offense. In short, yes, there's a role for a scorer on a team with too few of them, but not if his style of play detracts from the team more than it helps.
Amin Vafa: As currently constructed, it seems like the answer is no. The team does not really play any isolation sets; for better or worse, pretty much everything runs through John Wall's hands first. If Crawford can't adapt to be a backup PG or play off Wall without stopping the play in motion, then I think he can fit. But that doesn't seem too likely.
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2. If he were to be traded, what would/could the team get in return?
Mike Prada: Not very much, unless he's a part of a bigger package. Teams may be reluctant to trade another young player for him, and Crawford probably isn't good enough to merit being dealt for a first-round pick.
JKhan15: A late first-round pick maybe? Or it would have to be another player on a rookie deal that has also worn out their welcome. Alec Burks of the Jazz has declined a bit in his second year, but I don't know if the Jazz are ready to give up on him. If Jan Vesely was on another team...
Bullet Nation in Exile: Another relatively one dimensional player with upside on a rookie contract? Low contract players are tough to trade and get value back. I think this is a sell-low moment, and not an avenue worth actively pursuing. Now if the right deal presented itself, the Wizards would surely consider it, but I think the low-ball offers are out in force.
Thomas Pruitt: Very little. There are a couple of teams that could use him - hell, most teams could use a combo guard who can score off the bench. The problem, though, is that he's been tagged with the "disgruntled" label and his value is as low as it will be. As a result, he would probably bring in an expiring contract or a Lavoy Allen-caliber player on his own, but does Washington really need or want that? The team's best bet would be to include him as a sweetener as part of a larger deal.
Jeff Newman: Again, as others have said, not much. His salary isn't high enough nor his play good enough to merit much value in return, so he would need to be part of a package to bring back anything of worth, and even then I'm not sure that is the ideal scenario. I was a big fan of Crawford his rookie season but have since grown tired of his game and believe he's earned his spot in Wittman's doghouse and on the bench. But Steez still has ability as a scorer and is very cheap, so unless if another team has fallen in love with him and makes a staggering offer, I wouldn't sell low on him now.
Amin Vafa: It'd be great if the team could get a backup PG whose drop-off wasn't quite as steep as Wall-to-Price, but barring that, I think this team could probably use another draft pick. If for nothing else, the pick can be flipped in the offseason with another piece on the team for another asset or assets. Realistically, I don't see the Wiz getting more than a 2nd-round pick.
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3. Crawford absolutely stops ball movement on the floor, but is there something to be said about having an ISO-heavy scorer in the rotation?
Mike Prada: Absolutely, considering the team scores so little as is. The problem is that you don't want a player that can only be an ISO-heavy scorer. Crawford's made improvements in other areas of his scoring game, though, so if he can continue to be a better playmaker and defender, he'll be useful.
JKhan15: Of course. Teams need high usage players or else you have Trevor Ariza trying to create a shot for himself. But you only get so much credit for "carrying the offense" if the offense stinks when you carry it. I'm admittedly not a fan of his game and I think that players with his skillset are readily available everywhere.
Bullet Nation in Exile: Crawford absolutely stops ball movement on the floor, but is there something to be said about having an ISO-heavy scorer in the rotation? Rotation is the key word. Right now, with his defense, Crawford doesn't fit in with the team's identity and is relegated to a situational role. But is there something to be said for having an ISO-heavy scorer in the rotation? Yes, of course. But not one that takes away what the team is. I believe he can make it back, but it won't be this season, with all the drama.
Thomas Pruitt: Totally. Especially when a less offensively-gifted second unit is on the floor, it always helps to have someone who can create a shot or make a play for someone else. Crawford can and will score at a reasonable clip if no help defenders come to him. This gets defenses into a pattern of having to help and then recover to their man, freeing up the Veselys and Bookers of the world for backdoor layups and the occasional open midrange shot.
Jeff Newman: I guess I sort of already answered this, but yes, there are a litany of ISO-heavy NBA players who are a net-plus for their team, but Crawford isn't one, yet. If he can learn to aid the flow of the offense, pick his spots to ISO and spend more time in the corner, while also ramping up his effort on defense, than yes, he could be a valuable part of Washington's rotation.
Amin Vafa: I think there is definitely a place for that type of scorer, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Crawford is the man for the job. I do think when your offense is as out of rhythm as Washington's was last night, it would have been the perfect time to unleash the Steez and let him try out his offense. I mean, nothing else was working, so if he were able to breakdown Toronto's defense in the halfcourt and find shooters/take jumpers/make layups, then he should have been given the opportunity. No one on the Wizards is a better isolation player than Crawford. If the team has to go ISO, I want him doing it. I've seen it not work well before (see: first overtime against the Nets last month), but he's still capable of scoring. And sometimes, that's really all you need.
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4. Taking away the admittedly entertaining Steez/Stelo persona, does Crawford's presence add or detract to this team?
Mike Prada: It depends on how he's used. If he's taking up too many minutes, it detracts from the team. If he's condensed into one role and makes the most out of it in limited time, he can be an asset.
JKhan15: If he's taking minutes away from Beal or Webster, yes he is detracting from the team. If he is playing limited minutes on his rookie contract, I'm fine with that.
Bullet Nation in Exile: I don't know the players well enough personally to say. I think if he was a real problem there would be more than a faint murmur now and again, depending on how you view the players' discussing the importance of Cartier Martin's injury while Jordan himself was injured and producing.
Thomas Pruitt: It detracts, even more than what his swagger and scoring add to the on-court product. Everyone else on the team is somewhere between professional and saintly (Okafor). Crawford is the one person who doesn't fit this mold and it sets a bad example for other young players when he challenges Randy Wittman.
Jeff Newman: I think the fact that Crawford has the Steez persona sets him apart from the rest of the team and sort of harkens back to when Swaggy P and Pierre also prowled the Wizards locker room. I certainly don't think it adds to the professional culture the team has gone out of its way to cultivate, but I'm not sure if depreciates it, either.
Amin Vafa: I think people have a tendency to lump in his attitude and presumed clashing with Wittman into the same camp as Blatche's, Arenas's, or McGee's attitudes/personas of the past. I don't think Crawford has even close to the effect on the team aura as those guys did. I don't think he's happy riding the pine, but I don't think he's making everyone else's life hell because of it. He just wants (and deserves) a better situation than the one he's getting now.
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5. If Crawford's best fit isn't in Washington, which team could use his services the most? What could that team offer to the Wizards in a possible trade that makes sense for both sides?
Mike Prada: A team that has a strong culture and only needs him to score would be ideal. Tough to say what that team is, though. Given his small salary, it's going to be really tough to find a trade partner that can give anything of value back.
JKhan15: I'm thinking the Bulls could use some scoring and want to get rid of Richard Hamilton. But their salaries alone don't match up. It will be hard for the Wizards to get a trade that benefits them because Crawford's contract is so cheap that more salaries will have to be thrown into any deal to get it done. Luke Babbitt from Portland perhaps?
Bullet Nation in Exile: Which teams could use a situational scorer on a rookie contract? Most of them. Luke Ridnour would be nice...
Thomas Pruitt: Philadelphia is the first team that pops into my head, but really, most teams would have some use for him as a third or fourth guard. How does Steez for Kwame sound? Not good? Ok, then how about the Bobcats for Ramon Sessions and/or Jeff Taylor? Another target could be Al Farouq Aminu from the Hornets, although Washington would likely need to include a protected draft pick or another player to make it worthwhile for the Hornets.
Jeff Newman: I'm not familiar with all the teams to answer this all that intelligently, but ideally he'd go to a veteran team where he'd have a clearly-established role as an offensive spark off the bench with firm expectations to perform in that role. What team that is, I'm not sure, nor can I think of anything that could be offered straight-up for Crawford that would make sense for both teams. If the Bobcats offered Ramon Sessions and Jeff Taylor like Thomas suggested, I'd be all for that.
Amin Vafa: Lots of teams need a reliable scorer off the bench. Heck, the Wizards do, too. I think any shallow team, like Charlotte, Portland, Phoenix, Philly, or Orlando could use his scoring. Any of those teams could offer a lightly-used backup guard, so long as the salaries match. I think if Crawford goes, the next thing this team needs is someone who can help keep this team going while Wall is on the bench. Like, seriously.
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