Position: Shooting Guard
Expected draft position: 16-25
College career: Always known as a dead-eye shooter, Allen Crabbe signed on to Mike Montgomery's program at Cal after seeing his dream school, UCLA, pass him by. A bit perturbed over this, it didn't take long before Crabbe made his mark, flourishing late into his freshman season under Cal's intermittently-freewheeling, yet creative motion offense. He ended his first year on a high note, averaging over 19 points per game over his final six en route to Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors.
He maintained his remarkable shooting numbers in year two, averaging roughly 40 percent from three while inappreciably upping his per game stats in virtually every category. Yet, Crabbe's reputation remained the same, as folks around the PAC-12 saw him as a one-dimensional scorer incapable of handling the ball and taking it to the rim.
Slowly, but surely, Crabbe's game has evolved to the point where he's considered one of the better all around guards in his class. Cal's offense veered into a more guard-dominant style with Justin Cobbs and Crabbe at the helm, sporting a combined usage percentage of over 50 percent as a backcourt. Defenses continuously ran Crabbe off the three-point line, which prompted him to work harder to create his own offense. He ended up shooting just 35 percent from three on the season, but still scored over 17 points per game while being asked to play 36 minutes a contest. With all the attention he received, Crabbe may not have had his legs fully under him once March came around, but it didn't stop him from getting his team into the tournament for a second straight year.
Allen Crabbe Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress)
Offense: Crabbe has a scorers' mentality and certainly views it as his biggest asset moving forward. He came onto the college scene strictly a shooter, and that remains his calling card and what his arsenal centers around. His percentages fell off a bit conference play, but it's the least of his concerns, as he's mellowed into a terrific off-ball player.
He is the complete package as a shooter, showing off a lightning quick, high release with unlimited range and impeccable foot work. He gets himself square to the basket as he tightly brushes off screens, and has the size to shoot over defenders, or the use of escape dribbles to get himself cleaner looks. He shot a blazing 45 percent on two-point jumpers this season, higher than Klay Thompson (38 percent), Harrison Barnes (33 percent) and Ben McLemore (35 percent) in their final college season.
Crabbe does a great job getting his feet set on spot up opportunities, shooting 44 percent in catch and shoot opportunities and over 53 percent in unguarded catch and shoot situations, per the Draft Express scouting report. He does get trigger happy and has the occasional impulse to rush his shot, but overall is an extremely dangerous shooter capable of staying hot for extended periods of time.
With all the attentions he receives as a shooter, Crabbe has had plenty of opportunities to attack hard closeouts from the three-point line to get to the rim. The problem is he shies away from contact and generally has a tough time shaking his defender in an isolation setting, which explains why only 19 percent of his offense came at the rim. Instead Cal ran him off a lot of down screens in which he curled to the top of the key, giving him a running start and just enough space from his defender to get in the lane and generate looks at the rim. Crabbe would more often than not opt for the less-efficient floater in the lane rather than seeking out contact, and his lack of explosiveness at the rim forced him into making dump off passes to his big men down low. He has good court vision and his size allows him to see over defenses, but he gets caught up trying to force the issue, often leading to turnovers or broken plays.
Despite being a poor isolation ball handler, Crabbe is extremely apt at using hesitation dribbles and jab steps in the half court. He's capable with either hand, which becomes useful as he comes off screens, needing just two or three dribbles to get to his spot and rise up for a jumper. He's comfortable as the lead man or running out on the wings, showcasing his great top end speed and basketball smarts.
Defense: It's highly questionable that Crabbe ever reaches his full potential on defense despite his elite measurables. He has average lateral quickness, is vulnerable to blow-bys given his upright stance and poor understanding of positioning. He takes a lot of shortcuts on defense, choosing to go under due to his inability to fight over screens, and is frequently victim to ball watching. The potential is there, and his size should give him some indulgence to guard multiple positions and avoid unfavorable switches, but it's on him to put in the effort.
He also rebounded the ball very well throughout his college career, using his impressive physical tools along with his athleticism to beat others to the ball. What's more impressive is that he rarely fought for boards down low. His high totals are strictly off his anticipation, so he should be able to garner plenty of long rebounds to kick-start fast breaks.
Pro potential/Wizards fit: Crabbe has the elusive "elite skill" that so many people harp on with draft prospects. Clearly, his increased role as the primary option at Cal got the better of him on a number of occasions, but as his role abridges in the NBA, we'll begin to see Crabbe carve out a niche on a playoff team within the next two or three years. There will be a learning curve immediately and he may not see much playing time as a rookie due to his defensive frailties, so it's important to stay patient with him as he gets acclimated.
He does have some baggage to him to as well. Scouts have questioned his mental toughness in the past, he displays poor body language when things don't go his way and has fought with refs on a number of occasions. (He also was the subject of the unfortunate interest above, which stemmed from his perceived lack of interest in the game).
But the more I watch Crabbe, the more sold I get on him being taken within the first 25 or so picks. Elite shooters are such a hot commodity and very few have the size and length to go with it. The Wizards would certainly have to trade their way back into the first round, but no matter who they take with their No. 3 pick, they should take a long look at Crabbe. You can never have enough shooters to space the floor for your team, and he would be a good candidate to play both wing positions. He may have his issues on defense, but he isn't Cartier Martin-bad and should be able to stay on the floor for stretches.