Jae Crowder is not Kevin Garnett. Let's get that out of the way right off the bat. He's a good player and there's no telling how good he could become over time, but KG is a singular entity that will never be duplicated in any way shape or form on this planet ever again.
With that said, he represents certain attributes that we all admire and look for in athletes. Hard work, intensity, dedication, devotion, leadership, teaching, and above all an unquenchable competitive fire.
On the eve of what may be Kevin Garnett's last game in Boston, Coach Brad Stevens said that he sees many of those same qualities in Jae Crowder.
"He is very, very deliberate," Stevens said. "That’s one of the best compliments I can give somebody. He works on his game. He doesn’t waste time on things he doesn’t utilize a lot. That’s a really good thing for a young player to learn. I never lived it with (Kevin) Garnett, but that was always Garnett’s reputation. He didn’t waste time when he was on the court. It didn’t mean he worked for three hours. It was that he did the right thing for 20, 25 minutes."
That's high praise for anyone and it seems that Jae understands that.
"That's a guy I look up to," Crowder said after practice Sunday. "And I heard a lot of stories about him and that's what I try to mold myself into being. I try to become a guy like him and approach practices like games." "That's an honor for him to say that, but I'm far from that," the forward continued. "That's a goal of mine to become a guy like him. That's my approach is to try to become the most vocal leader at practice and when the cameras and stuff aren't around."
Crowder is one of my favorite Celtics for all the reasons stated above. Nobody is going to out-work him, he does so many things on the court beyond the stats that show up in the box score, and you can tell that he legitimately doesn't care about stats beyond the wins and losses. He's completely unafraid to speak his mind to his teammates, the coach, and even the press. Sometimes I think he's a little hard on himself and his teammates after losses, but that speaks to his competitive spirit (reminds me a bit of Gerald Wallace actually).
Jae is already playing up to his new contract, which could look like a bargain for years to come. He seems like a fantastic piece of the puzzle going forward.
With all of that said, one of the needs that this team seems to have is a dynamic scoring wing. For all of Jae's contributions, he's not that go-to scorer that Danny Ainge alluded to last week. If the Celtics do land one of those kinds of guys (or draft and develop one) then you might see Jae moved to the second unit or shifted over to the 4 in some small-ball lineups.
For now, however, Crowder is working hard on improving and developing his game and helping his team strive for victories. And that's about all you could ask of him. Kevin Garnett was never his teammate, but I think he'd be proud of the young fella for what he's doing in Boston thus far.