Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My ongoing theory about Jamal Crawford

I haven’t had a lot of chances to sit down and watch the Knicks this season.

I’ve read a lot about the lineup shuffles, the feuds and the booing at home, but I wanted to see for myself how bad this team really is.

I wrote in this week’s Sunday Slams that Isiah should use Jamal Crawford in spurts rather than playing him for 30+ minutes a night, and that Zeke should just concede and use Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury at the same time.

Well, tonight, Thomas used all three on the floor to close out the game, and it worked. The Knicks beat the Cavs 101-98 in Cleveland.

Crawford only played 15 minutes leading up to the 4th quarter, and this was brilliant strategy.

For my money, Crawford is incredibly frustrating to watch. He’s got tremendous ability, but he makes a lot of bad decisions. This game was the perfect example.

Crawford and Eddy Curry executed the pick-and-roll to perfection for much of the final quarter, leading to either easy baskets or free throw attempts. It’s a side of Crawford’s game that I rarely see, but one that worked very well with his good friend Eddy Curry. This is precisely how the Knicks’ point guards should be using Curry, and while I assumed it would be Francis who would be best suited to maximize Curry’s game, it was Crawford who perfected it down the stretch.

But for every nice pass, there was still the Crawford trademark: a questionable shot attempt.

With the Knicks trailing 84-82, Crawford missed a terrible 3-pointer without passing or setting up the offense at all. After a Cleveland miss, Crawford again made no passes and missed an 18-foot jumper on New York’s next possession.

In addition, for every made shot on offense, Crawford gave the points right back defensively. Literally. There was a series where he drove right to the basket offensively for an easy lay-up, then immediately let Eric Snow go right by him with ease on the other end. Two series later, Crawford drilled a 3-pointer but didn’t rotate properly on defense and allowed Damon Jones to answer with a triple of his own.

But, on this night, Crawford’s good play outweighed the bad. Thomas intentionally saved him for the 4th quarter, and Crawford answered the call by scoring all 11 of his points and racking up all two huge assists to Curry.

He played a total of 27 minutes, which follows my theory for victory. I am thoroughly convinced I’m on to something here. Jamal Crawford always seems to be a work in progress. I think finding ways to make him successful are critical to the success of the Knicks. We’ll see how it all evolves.


Anonymous said...

Now if only the Knicks can figure this out. But a big win puts them right in the middle of the Eastern playoff race. Knicks are going to the playoffs!!!

jb said...

I swear Crawford used to sport a headband around his shiny dome during his days as a Bull. Probably didn't tape his ankles either.

My theory is that a decent coach (i.e. anyone but Zeke) could teach Crawford how to play more responsibly, increasing his minutes and decreasing the questionable decisions. It's mind-boggling that a former PG has 4 players on his team in that position who have no idea what an assist is. But they also have a coach who has no idea how to teach, so I guess it evens out.