Perhaps I've been a bit too hard on Jordan Crawford. I didn't see how a shoot-first gunner fit into the future of this team. I didn't think that a stats guy like Stevens would find much value in Jordan's low percentage shots. I obviously was selling Crawford short (at least so far).
It is early yet, but so far Crawford has stepped up in ways that others (like say Courtney Lee) have not.
Crawford, who has owned a less-than-flattering reputation as a talk-heavy shoot-first guard during his NBA career, is quietly trying to reinvent himself a bit this season. Acquired at last year's trade deadline to add a wild-card presence to a depleted Boston roster, the Celtics now see Crawford as a valuable combo guard who can throttle his shot output and showcase his underrated passing skills.
Without Rondo for the start of the season, Stevens has elected to go with a combo-guard-by-committee approach. It isn't just Avery Bradley playing out of position. He has Crawford to help him bring the ball up and distribute. Note that this is the same strategy that Rivers used last year with Bradley and Lee. But just as Lee lost time to Crawford last year, he's continued to slip behind him this year.
Crawford, as it turns out, is an underrated distributor. He did fill that role to a certain extent with the Wizards in years past, but he was so known as a gunner that it was largely ignored. But his teammates are all supportive of him and using terms like "misunderstood" and "team first guy."
That's a good thing because this committee approach seems to be the best answer that Stevens has while Rondo is out.
Like we said, there is, perhaps, a chance that this dual point guard system could work – and work well. As Stevens said before the game, "I think what we all think is there’s a prototypical way of doing things. It’s okay to be different and that’s the way those guys can approach it and hopefully approach it by committee here as we move forward." So even if Phil Pressey might be the Celtics' best option at point guard because he's their only healthy true point guard while Rajon Rondo (knee) is sidelined, Stevens is, at least, not afraid to try something different and unconventional, which, really, are two words that nicely sum up the idea of having natural shooting guards share point guard duties.
Even when Rondo returns, it is good to have guys that can back him up and provide him playmaking support even when he's on the floor. If we're going to get away from the Rondo-pounds-the-ball-waiting-for-someone-to-get-open offense, then we'll need good ball movement. Having another combo guard in the rotation that can find open men would be a very good thing.
And yes, of course Crawford is going to look for his own shot as well. But sometimes that's a good thing, in particular on a team that sometimes struggles with finding their flow in a halfcourt set. At least twice last night the shot clock was winding down and Crawford found himself with the ball. He surveyed the court from 3 feet beyond the arc and figured the best option was to just launch away. And sure enough it went in twice.
Those won't always go in, but at least he'll always have the confidence to think that the next one is going in. Plus, he's got a pretty good feel for getting the ball to teammates as well. So maybe, just maybe, Jordan Crawford will be around longer than many of us thought.