“If only he had a jumper, then he’d be a great player.”
“If he just took better shots.”
“If he didn’t shoot so much.”
“If he ran the pick-and-roll better.”
“If he played better defense.”
“If, if, if…”
We hear comments like this all the time. I know I’ve uttered these types of phrases, and if I had to guess, I’d say everyone else is guilty of making “if” statements about various different players as well.
These comments often happen because we recognize that despite the talent certain players have, there is something holding them back.
It seems so easy when watching the game from the stands or the couch. But often our wishes of a better jumper or better decision making come up empty, because it isn’t so simple to just learn how to shoot or completely alter decision making patterns in the midst of the game.
Just because we – as fans, bloggers and analyzers of the game – want Josh Smith to stop taking threes, or Rudy Gay to stop forcing mid-range jumpers, doesn’t mean it will happen. In our minds it’s so clear and simple, but the execution of the ideas is much more difficult.
But every once in a while, players do adjust; they do make the changes for the better. And when it happens, it’s just awesome.
It validates our knowledge and understanding of the game when we see players implement changes we’ve been clamoring for and then suddenly start to perform better.
So far this year, there has been no better example of this than Jordan Crawford.
From the days of “Who else gon shoot?” Jordan Crawford has become a very respectable point guard for the Celtics. He’s taking (mostly) good shots and has shown off his playmaking ability in Rajon Rondo’s absence, averaging 14.2 points and 5.5 assists through 24 games. All we’ve heard about this year is the “new Jordan Crawford.”
He’s shooting 46% from the field and 40% from three, up from career averages of 41% and 31% respectively, and it’s coming on just 11 shots a game, which is right around his career average.
Finally given a chance to start at the point – and thanks in part to the tutelage of Brad Stevens – Crawford has become the player we always hoped he could be: a shoot first point guard with good vision who is more than capable of running a team.
Of course, it’s only been a quarter of a season, and Crawford’s certainly liable to revert to his old ways, but for the time being, all our wishes have been fulfilled.