But the 6-foot-4 Crawford hasn’t let it affect his play or rattle his confidence, as he has scored in double figures in each of the past two games — and handed out a team-high seven assists in the Wizards’ lone preseason win against Cleveland.
“Jordan is a unique guy,” Wittman said. “We all know he has the ability to score. He’s just got to understand the players that he has and when he can really push the envelope and when he’s capable of making plays. He’s been really busting his tail, trying to do the thing that we want. I’m just going to keep challenging him to stay on that road.”
Wittman has tried numerous ways to keep Crawford on the floor, giving him playing time at point guard and also allowing him to share the court with Beal when the Wizards go small. Crawford doesn’t know if he’ll start this season or not, but he is better prepared to handle any situation after the past two seasons in Washington.
“I see myself being a major contributor,” Crawford said. “I’m going to see what the coach wants from me, but I’m going to keep doing me. You know that.”
Crawford took advantage of Nick Young’s knee injury to have some big scoring nights as a rookie, then overcame a rough start to snatch the job away before Young was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers last season. He entered the summer with clear-cut goals for this season.
“Being an all-star, individually, and as a team, I want to make the playoffs,” he said.
But unlike in the past, when Crawford boldly made statements and hoped for them to happen, Crawford understands that nothing comes easily in the league. Ted Leonsis marveled recently about how he noticed the maturity in Crawford when he told him, “I’m a vet now.”
“My third year, I’m looking at things different and that’s a good thing,” Crawford said. “I’m seeing how tough it’s going to be to win consistently every night. That’s why I’m working as hard as I can, individually, so they can see me working hard and pick it up in practice. I just want the team to come out every night and try to win.”