The basketball gods were kind to Jamal Crawford this offseason. After enduring a decade of playing for drama-filled, losing franchises (i.e. Isiah), the Hawks rescued Crawford by aquiring him from the dreadful Warriors. Jamal, as we know is infamous for his 10-year old playoff drought – currently the longest for active players. Assuming injuries and/or a major meltdown in A-Town, ‘Mal should see what it’s like for the first time to work past April 14.
Crawford is clearly in a winning situation now with the Hawks. The question now is: where will he fit in with this team and is he okay with not starting? After the team, re-upped with Mike Bibby over the summer, it became crystal clear that Crawford probably was going to come off the bench. For the past two seasons, he started every game he suited up for with the Knicks and Warriors and was among the league leaders in minutes played. Jamal is also a guy who can put up points. He has scored 50 or more points in a game four times in his career and averaged 19.8 in 2008-’09.
I think Jamal is a guy who feels like he should be the focal point of the offense. Remember, he wasn’t happy when he was demoted from starter to bench player a few years back with the Knicks. But I think this time around it will be different. He will have to accept the fact he will get 25-30 minutes a game and less shots. But like Jason Terry and Nate Robinson, Crawford could really thrive in that sixth man/spark plug off the bench role. He can run the point when Bibby is out or he can provide instant offense when needed. Because of his handle and play-making abilities, he will get Joe Johnson easy shots and you better believe he’ll be throwing all sorts of lobs to J-Smooth. He is already also my early candidate for sixth man of the year.
I envision this move by Atlanta to really pay off and maybe bump the Hawks a seeding or two higher come playoff time. Crawford is a player who loves the spotlight and loves to take the last shot, so I think he will be mandatory to watch come May.
What do you guys think? Is Crawford the missing piece for Atlanta? Will he bitch about coming off the bench?
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