Jordan Crawford is returning to Atlanta in a much different — and better position — than he left. Crawford was a seldom-used reserve on a playoff team, settling for garbage-time minutes whenever the Hawks had gotten enough out of all-star in Joe Johnson and sixth-man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford.
But when the Wizards face the Hawks on Wednesday, Jordan Crawford is a starting shooting guard still trying to hold off Nick Young for the right to share the backcourt with John Wall. Even if moves back to the bench, Crawford still has a valuable role as a designated scorer for the Wizards.
“It changed a lot,” Crawford said, when asked about where he is compared to the last time he played an NBA game in Atlanta. “It’s going to be fun being the away team. I played them last year, but it was here. It’ll be fun being back in that gym.”
Crawford has started 19 of his 27 games with the Wizards, averaging 19.1 points, and he felt he needed the trade from Atlanta to grow as a player. He is grateful for the opportunity that came after the trade deadline deal with the Wizards last season - especially after being forced to play the waiting game with the Hawks.
“It was tough. With my confidence and the way I feel about my game, I always feel I should be playing,” he said. “It was tough, but at the same time I was in a different position, I was in the NBA. A lot of great players done went through it, so I wasn’t tripping.”
Crawford still believes that he gained some valuable experience, being around a playoff team and watching veterans prepare for each game. “Just how they go about it everyday. Even if they have a good game, they know they have to go do it again the next night, because the team is depending on them every single night.”
He scored eight points in the first period of the Wizards’ 90-84 loss to the New Jersey Nets in the season opener, helping the team jump out to an early 21-point lead.
“I got in a great rhythm, but we lost at the end of the day,” he said. “We stopped playing D. It was a little down because of the loss, but you know we going to have to erase that thought and move onto the game” in Atlanta.
In the season opener, Young led all scorers with 16 points in just 18 minutes but Crawford led all starters with 15 points. Coach Flip Saunders said the starting job is still Crawford’s to lose until Young gets back into shape and proves that he is able to carry a heavier load.
“We’ll probably still go with him, yeah,” Saunders said of Crawford. “Like I said, Nick, we’re going to still go another week to 10 days, to make sure he’s totally all right with everything we do. He’s still going to play a lot of minutes.”
Young was injured in the third quarter on Monday, when Andray Blatche got tied up with Nets forward Kris Humphries and fell on his left foot. But Young was back on the practice court on Tuesday, running sprints and showing no ill effects from the injury. “Fans have to be a little patient with him, give him some time, because he’s going with training camp legs,” Saunders said of Young. “We don’t want to do anything and all of sudden he has some kind of major injury because we’ve pushed him too hard.”