Everyone has a certain role they play for their team. Rather it is being the go-to scorer, or just being a great hustle player who gets the little things done, every role is important. In the NBA, it is very significant to have a great 6th man or bench players in general, who can keep the same tempo the starting five created. Many even argue that some players who come off the bench deserve a starting position. James Harden, who has won the MVP award, has even at a point in time come off the bench. We will take a look at Jamal Crawford, who has won the 6th man of the year award 3 times, and evaluate his prime. Today’s topic is “How Good Was Jamal Crawford in His Prime?”
Crawford grew up in Seattle, Washington and started playing basketball around the age of three years old. He grew up playing multiple sports, like baseball, basketball and football, but basketball was the sport he was most passionate about. In the eighth grade, Jamal moved in with his father who lived in California, but he stopped playing basketball for a short moment due to his grades. He ended up moving back to Seattle and attended Rainier Beach High School for his junior and senior year. He improved his team tremendously and was a huge asset to their success. Jamal led his team to a state championship in 1998. Rainier high school has produced a few players who played in the NBA, for example Nate Robinson, Doug Christie, and Terrence Williams, just to name a few. They retired his jersey, number 23, and in 2018 they inducted him into their Hall of Fame. After his high school career, Jamal received a scholarship to the University of Michigan and committed to play there. In the 1999-2000 season, he was a starter, and averaged 16.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.8 rebounds his freshman year. After only attending the University of Michigan for one year, he declared for the NBA draft in 2000. He was drafted eighth overall by the Cleveland Cavs, but was immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls.
Going into Jamal’s rookie year in 2000-2001, he struggled with his shot. He only shot 35 percent from the field. He only scored double digits twice and averaged only 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. The Chicago Bulls struggled and lost 42 out of their first 48 games. They finished the 2000-2001 season 15-67, as the worst record in the Central Division and also the worst league record. Rookie Jamal Crawford did not have the best season to start, nor did he get drafted to a successful team.
Chicago Bulls Era
Jamal was injured his next season, only playing in 23 games, but his stats increased across the board. In the 2001-2002 season he averaged 9.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists and shot 44.8% from the field. Going into his third season with the Bulls, Jamal began to become an important piece to the Bulls offense. He started in almost half of the games, and they finished with a 30-52 record, which was an improvement, but they still missed the playoffs. In the 2003-2004 season, Jamal started as a shooting guard and averaged 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals. On April 11th, he had his first 50 point game against the Toronto Raptors. This was his last season with the Bulls before being traded to the New York Knicks.
New York Knicks Era
In the 2004-2005 season, Jamal started all but three games with the Knicks. They were a young rebuilding team and struggled just like his previous team, the Bulls. He averaged 17.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.4 steals, keeping it consistent with his previous season. Although Crawford started most games his first year with the Knicks, he soon was switched to a 6th man role. It took him some time to adjust to this new role, but he embraced it. Going into the 2006-2007 season, the Knicks made some management changes and Isiah Thomas was the new head coach. Jamal suffered from a torn ACL, which caused him to miss some games. He still maintained his 17 point average.His next season with the Knicks, he was back in the starting lineup once again. He now averaged 20.6 points, and had a new career high of 52 points. The Knicks still struggled making the playoffs with a 23-59 record. In the 2008-2009 season, Jamal only played another 11 games in a Knicks jersey before he was traded to the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State Era
Jamal only stayed with the Warriors for one season, 2008-2009. He started in all the games he played for them and averaged almost 20 points each game. He scored another career high 50 points, making him the fourth player in NBA history to score 50 plus points with three different teams. At the end of this season, Crawford was traded to the Atlanta Hawks.
Atlanta Hawks Era
In the 2009-2010 season, Jamal joined the Atlanta Hawks as his fourth team he has played for. In 2010, he set a new record for the most career four point plays, which surpassed Reggie Miller. This season he was averaging 18 points coming off the bench. At this time the Hawks had all-star guard Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Josh Smith and Al Horford, which was why he came off the bench. He won the 2010 6th Man of the Year award, and the Hawks qualified for the playoffs, but lost in the second round. The next season, 2010-2011, Crawford had another solid season helping the Hawks clinch the 5th seed in the playoffs. They made it to the semi finals, but were defeated by the Chicago Bulls in six games.
Portland Trail Blazers Era
Jamal signed with the Blazers on December 15th, 2011, but played a short season because of the NBA lockout. He nearly averaged 14 points a game.
Los Angeles Clippers Era
Jamal then signed to the Clippers in the 2012 offseason. He was a runner-up to J.R Smith for the 2013 6th Man of the Year award. He ended up winning the 6th Man of the Year award for the second time in 2014. He helped the Clippers finish the 2014-2015 season with their best record in Franchise history with 57 wins and only 25 losses. He become the third shooting guard in NBA history to reach 16,000 points. In 2016, Crawford was named 6th Man of the Year, for a third time in his career, at 36 years old. He also broke the record for the oldest winner of the award as well. Jamal Crawford was a part of the “Lob City” era of the Clippers, and he helped them reach the success that came alongside Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan.
After being traded from the Clippers Jamal continued to float around from the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017, to the Phoenix Suns in 2018. He is currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets in the final part of the season as a substitute player.
Jamal Crawford began his prime towards the end of the 2000’s playing for the Warriors. In his 2008-2009 season, he played in his best games of his career. He averaged 19.7 points and shot almost 41% from the field. This was the second highest average of his career. The previous season, after being traded to the Knicks, he scored a career-high 20.6 points per game in the 2007-2008 season. The 2011-2012 season was shortened due to the lockout, but once signed with the Clippers, Jamal continued to climb in his career. The last two 6th Man of the Year awards were in Los Angeles. Jamal had plenty of clutch moments, in which he succeeded in. He averaged 18.6 points in the 2014 season. Being a part of a great team, Jamal flourished into his 6th man role and was a key component to the Clippers and their success as a team, even at an older age. In my opinion he ended his prime once he left the Clippers in 2017.
Jamal is nearing an end to his NBA career but continues to live his NBA dream still playing at 40 years old. He will always be known as one of the best players to come off the bench and also one of the smoothest ball handlers in the NBA. He is still recording records till this day and has scored a total of 19,414 points in his 19 year career.