Enough of the nonsense about trading Jae Crowder. Here’s why the Boston Celtics should keep one of their most important two-way players.
Aside from having the best dreadlocks in the league, Jae Crowder has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league. Not through stats, not through miraculous blocks or steals, but by anchoring the Boston Celtics defense, despite lacking a legitimate power forward.
While his offense revolves more around efficiency and spacing, his defense and physicality is his best asset. While captaining the Celtics defense may not seem like a rigorous task, it’s more impressive than you think. On paper, the Celtics defense is not impressive.
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They are out-rebounded frequently, and are in the lower half of the league when it comes to steals and blocks per game. Where Boston does excel is on-ball defense and forcing tough shots all over the court.
If you watch the Celtics, you know that very few players drive when Crowder is in the paint. While he manages to cover up for the lack of power forward in certain situations, players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Jimmy Butler have proven to be problems.
His previous season
Statistically, it is difficult to make his case due to his medial per game stats, but he is second to Isaiah Thomas when it comes to highest win shares on the Celtics. When looking at that stat, it’s important to note Thomas’ incredible discrepancy between offensive win shares) and defensive win shares.
Thomas is obviously a defensive liability that the Celtics manage to mask, largely due to Crowder’s ability to guard multiple positions. He expertly uses his teammates when he needs to, and communicates well, leading to defensive proficiency for the team. Crowder’s defense stretches beyond the scorebook. His value is cemented on that end and his improving efficiency is an extra prize.
The addition of Al Horford has clearly affected Crowder’s contributions on a general level, but fans know that scoring was Crowder’s biggest problem. He struggled to capitalize on open threes in previous years, but he managed to knock them down with solid consistency last season. Crowder had a career-high true shooting percentage of 61.3.
Per MassLive.com‘s Jay King, Brad Stevens has previously talked about Crowder embracing Boston, arguably more than any other player:
“But we talk all the time about embracing the expectations of being an athlete here in Boston because I do think this city is such a tremendous sports town and offers our guys such an opportunity to grow and feel those banners above us, and feel the expectations of really being a team-first player, then playing as hard as you can. A lot of our guys have embraced that. I don’t know that anybody has embraced it as much as Jae over the last few years.”
Crowder catches plenty of flak by making questionable decisions on drives and his hilarious debatable attempts to posterize notable rim protectors. Never in 100 million years will I criticize a player for being fearless, regardless of the outcome.
I will take the player that goes up hard every single time and gets blocked, over the player that chooses to shy away from contact and potential embarrassment, every single time. As most people should. The Celtics will want Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to follow the path set by Crowder. Team-first, excellent defense and not afraid to showcase toughness.
Bonus and trade value
Crowder does not care what anyone thinks and does not shy away from confrontation. He is more than willing to get in your face. When he does, it’s like his 6’6″, 250-pound. frame increases by two feet and 80 pounds. His name has floated in plenty of trade rumors and for good reason. He has the ability to mesh with any roster and adds defense to any teams (most teams do) that need it.
As the enforcer, his role has defined the team. He set the precedent for players like Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas to play with even MORE confidence, while simultaneously inspiring more passive players like Al Horford to play with an edge. He will continue to inspire younger Celtics for as long as he is there.
With the Celtics grabbing the 1-seed and proving to be the best non-Cavaliers team in the East, it is hard to look past Crowder as one of the main — if not the main — facets of the team. He does not score nearly as much as Thomas, much like Thomas does not defend as well as Crowder, but together they have been an imposing combination.
Crowder may seem expendable, but if he is traded, Celtics fans are subject to see a severe decline in the team’s defensive efficiency. The 26-year-old has not hit his athletic peak and has improved his game every year in Boston. He is vital to their success and can be the perfect mold of how a player should carry themselves on the court. Tough, fearless…and luscious dreadlocks.