The Los Angeles Clippers Jamal Crawford is the secret weapon that makes them a contender. How secret is he? Despite some great numbers last year, the New York Knicks J.R. Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin get all the headlines, and deservedly so, but Crawford averaged 16.5 points last year coming off the bench, which was 1.5 less than Griffin averaged and .4 less than Paul. He shot 38% from three points and that was not because he limited his attempts. He was averaging two made threes per game on just over five attempts. Crawford was 43% from the field altogether.
Jamal is in his 14th NBA season this year which gives the Clippers some much needed veteran leadership. He spent his first four years with the Chicago Bulls and the next four with the New York Knicks. He knows how to play in the large market areas like Los Angeles where the media scrutiny and fan expectations are very high. After a rather disappointing season two years ago in Portland, Crawford seemed to be reborn again in L. A. last season. He must respond well to the bright lights and big stage.
Could Crawford start for the Clippers? Perhaps. Should he start? No. Coming off the bench and lighting it up gets the Clippers going. With almost 30 minutes per game he is getting starter minutes anyway. Coming off the bench, he gets to go up against a second stringer or a slightly tired first stringer when he comes into the game. Most of the time, it is a mismatch in Crawford’s favor.
When the Clippers were at their best last December, how many times did we see Crawford come in and immediately spark a Clippers run? It seemed like it was every night. This will be one of the things Clippers fans will be most interested see this year, how Doc Rivers uses his secret weapon. A guard in his playing days, he knows the position well. Look for Jamal Crawford to have another big year.