The Golden State Warriors were rumored to be interested in a deal for (now former) Celtics guard Jordan Crawford last night, and this morning a trade was announced.
Warriors acquire Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks in exchange for Toney Douglas and part of their TPE, according to sources
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) January 15, 2014
This was actually a three-team trade, with Douglas going to the Miami Heat and Joel Anthony moving to Boston. Essentially, the Warriors got some guard depth for free since Douglas never fit in. But is it quality guard depth?
Crawford was getting a lot of playing time in Boston with Rajon Rondo recovering from an ACL tear. So far this season he’s averaged 13.7 ppg, and 5.7 apg. His 224 total assists on the season were 135 more than the second-highest assist man on the team, Gerald Wallace. The Celtics are also awful and fully invested in the 2014 NBA Draft, not the 2013-14 NBA regular season.
Brooks is now on his third team after being drafted 25th overall in the 2011 Draft. While Crawford is more of a combo guard type who played quite a bit at the “1” this season, Brooks is a scorer. The problem is that since his rookie season — when he averaged 12.6 ppg with the New Jersey Nets — his playing time has fallen precipitously. But even with his minutes dropping from 29.4 per game to 12.5 in 2012-13 and 7.3 this year, his scoring production has remained surprisingly constant, with averages between 15 and 16 points per 36 minutes each season.
This trade was all about adding offense to the bench unit without trading Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes. Crawford will get Douglas’ minutes and then some, and don’t be surprised if Brooks leaps ahead of Kent Bazemore on the depth chart in a matter of days or maybe even hours.
I wrote semi-recently about how I thought Douglas was someone whose talents the Warriors could still salvage, but what he provides (excellent perimeter defense, decent long-range shooting) isn’t what the Warriors really need. Douglas could very well thrive with the Heat and fit in quite well as a complement to Mario Chalmers as a guy who can hit an open three (and he’ll get plenty of those in Miami). Golden State wanted Douglas to facilitate the offense, but he’s a pretty poor passer and never seemed comfortable getting the Warriors into any sort of offensive rhythm. Plus, Douglas was getting inconsistent playing time. It was a bad fit all around, and Bob Myers admitted as such with today’s deal.
The question now is whether this trade is enough. Crawford only really became a full-fledged distributor this season, and that was out of necessity. He’s a restricted free agent, which probably means he’ll be amenable to any role that puts him in a good light, and the Warriors are going to play a lot of games on national television over the coming months.
But when Stephen Curry sits, can Crawford get comfortable enough in the offense to at least be a poor man’s Jarrett Jack? One nice thing for Mark Jackson is that Crawford is definitely a better scoring option than what they previously had at the off guard spot if he wants Andre Iguodala to run the point with three or four reserves, but Jackson seems to prefer playing Iguodala and Curry at the same time whenever possible.
Mostly, trading for Crawford (and Brooks, to a lesser extent) is a statement on the Warriors’ offensive woes with Curry out of the game. According to NBA.com (h/t Grantland), the Warriors have scored 109.8 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor, and just 86.5 when he sits. Part of the reason why — besides a glaring lack of offensive talent beyond the starting five — is because the team starts going into iso-mode when Curry rests. It’ll now be up to Crawford to break down the defense and keep guys like Marreese Speights and Barnes involved offensively.
While Crawford won’t get as many minutes in Golden State, there’s one other stat that jumps out about him — he averages more free throw attempts per minute than Klay Thompson, Barnes, Iguodala, Green and Andrew Bogut, and gets to the line far more often than Toney Douglas. Also, Crawford is an 83% foul shooter for his career. That makes him a better option than Iguodala or Barnes if the Warriors need to protect a lead.
Crawford is also only 25 and can run, while the other options talked about frequently (Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller) don’t possess those qualities. Hinrich and Miller are calming veterans who are considered true point guards, so this trade isn’t going to please everybody. It’ll be up to the Warriors and Crawford to see if they can convince him to keep passing more than he has at any point in his career, while minimizing the number of threes he takes since he’s only a 31% career shooter from behind the arc who likes to shoot from there anyway (4.0 three-point attempts per game this season).