BOSTON – John Wall and Bradley Beal both chuckled when asked what they expected from former teammate Jordan Crawford in his first start against the Boston Celtics.
“Cause we know Jordan,” Wall said, laughing. “He’s a competitive guy and when he feel like it’s a team that let him go, he use that as more motivation and he want to show them. I think he’s matured, so he’ll show it in a better way than he probably in the past. In the past, he’d probably going out and try to get 30, 40. Now he’ll try to do it the right way, set his guys up and just try to win a basketball game.”
Crawford is having the most efficient season of his career, using the opening created by Rajon Rondo’s absence and the freedom afforded from Celtics Coach Brad Stevens to change perceptions about his game. He is averaging career highs in field goal percentage (43.6) and assists (5.5) was named Eastern Conference player of the week earlier this month, but Coach Randy Wittman isn’t surprised by Crawford’s performance.
“He’s been capable of that,” Wittman said. “We’ve all known that. He’s a good player who can affect a game in a lot of different ways. I have a hard enough time following our time closely to give you any more than that, but we know what he’s capable of. You guys are seeing that here.”
The Wizards shipped Crawford to Boston last February after he grew disgruntled because of a diminished role after Wall returned from a stress injury in his left knee. Wittman has repeatedly stated that the move was made because Beal had established himself as a building for the franchise, but Crawford doesn’t understand how he was pitted against the Wizards’ second-year shooting guard.
“He always been my favorite player, him and John, since they got with the Wizards. I loved playing with Beal,” Crawford said. “It really didn’t make sense that they were saying that. I was just trying to put Beal on game, with the NBA life.”
Beal is certainly looking forward to the matchup after their intense practice battles last season. “Whenever you have somebody who is competitive and is a winner mentally, it’s always great to play against him. He’s good and he’s been playing great this year and we’re definitely going to have our hands full. So we have to be fully prepared and ready to go.”
Crawford recently said that he could’ve been “more professional” with how he handled his role last season. Wall believes Crawford is starting to grow.
“I think when he got traded, he’s been on three different teams in his rookie contract, that’s tough,” Wall said. “When you get in that situation, all you’re thinking is am I going to be out the league or am I going to be one of those guys that keep getting one year deals. And I think he matured, he understood, that he needed to be a more professional guy. He already had the talent, so I think he’s just being more professional and taking full advantage of his opportunity to get a starting spot and show what he can do.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
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