Jae Crowder, SF, Miami Heat
28.8 Minutes Per Game
10.5 Points Per Game
5.9 Rebounds Per Game
2.5 Assists Per Game
40.1% Field Goal Percentage
34.3% 3-pt Field Goal Percentage
This move would feel reminiscent of the Seth Curry acquisition from last offseason seeing as Crowder had a short stint early on in his career with the Mavericks. After being sent to the Boston Celtics in the infamous Rajon Rondo trade that netted Dwight Powell, Crowder has seen his career take off, fall off, and rise again.
At his best, Crowder is a legitimate 3-and-D threat for any team. He does not shy away from contact on defense and was often seen as a tough guy for the Heat who already have Jimmy Butler…
However, across Crowder’s career, he hasn’t always separated himself from other starting-caliber small forwards with his play. Since his departure from Dallas, Crowder has played in Boston, Cleveland, Utah, Memphis, and most recently Miami. No matter where he’s been, he has been serviceable and not much else.
Nevertheless, that is great news for a team in serious need of a consistent wing piece. With Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell seemingly locked into the starting lineup, there is one spot available for a multitude of people. If Tim Hardaway Jr leaves, that spot is likely Seth Curry’s. If he doesn’t, it is likely Hardaway Jr’s.
It isn’t likely that Crowder finds himself playing a consistent role in the starting lineup, but the team is lacking in wing depth outside of Dorian Finney-Smith. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being pursued by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team’s backup is… Justin Jackson.
(Rest your pitchforks, I understand how this is bad! Relax people, relax!)
Crowder fits in nicely as a valuable depth piece, not only for his contributions as a wing player but also for his contributions as a bruiser/tough guy. That final bit is what the team needs after the Los Angeles Clippers wanted to get into the mind of the team.
However, the biggest question now is how does the team make him the most effective version of himself?
In his very short regular-season stint in Miami, Crowder shot 44.5 percent on 6.4 attempts per game from the three-point line. In total, Crowder averaged 11.9 points per game. That 44.5 percent was by far the highest percentage Crowder averaged from the three-point line in his career. When competing in the playoffs, he averaged 34.2 percent on 12.2 attempts per game from the three-point line; in total, Crowder averaged 12 points per game for the playoffs.
What changed once Crowder made the playoffs? The clearest answer is he shot more. His attempts nearly double; as a result, his average regressed to his mean of 34 percent. This was likely the most significant change. Over the course of Crowder’s career, the number of attempts per game has yet to drastically affect his shooting percentages.
All of these numbers point to one obvious development, no matter how much you play Crowder, he can essentially duplicate the role of Dorian Finney-Smith when he exits the floor.
During the regular season, Finney-Smith shot 49 percent of his three-point shots from the corner. He converted on 43 percent of those shots. With the Heat, Crowder shot 31 percent of his shots from the corner and converted 47 percent of those shots.
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In the playoffs, Finney-Smith attempted 27 percent of his threes from the corner converting 37.5 percent of them. Crowder attempted 22 percent of his threes from the corner converting 31 percent of them. While the efficiency averages differ greatly, the usage seems relatively similar, especially considering that Crowder and Finney-Smith were assisted on almost all of their three-point shots in the playoffs and were assisted on most of their baskets during the regular season.
Crowder’s age and career production put a ceiling on how much he makes, but if anything. that only benefits teams as they would get a solid player at such an affordable cost. For the Mavericks, Crowder’s contribution would be invaluable. Hopefully, if this were to occur, coach Carlisle can make Crowder’s homecoming a bit more enjoyable than when he exited the metroplex.
This free agency doesn’t have the elite talent of the projected 2021 free agency class, but there is still plenty of value if you look at the list correctly. All three players would be excellent and affordable additions to the team that put them one step closer to the Larry O’Brien. The beautiful thing here is there are so many more free agents available…