While Crawford could easily avoid shooting over a double team or pulling up with ample time on the shot clock, there is one minor tweak that could help him become a more efficient offensive player.
Crawford shot 40 percent from the field in his sophomore season, which isn’t very accurate for a volume shooter but is actually an improvement from his rookie year. But Crawford appears to have found his most troublesome spot on above-the-break three-pointers (the ones from 23 feet, nine inches, as opposed to the corner three-pointers, which are 22 feet). This season, Crawford attempted 872 field goals, with nearly one-fourth (212) taken above the arc.
Problem was, Crawford made just 55 of those long threes (26 percent) from that spot (and no, that doesn’t include him going 1-for-2 from beyond halfcourt this season). He connected on 44.5 percent (294 of 660) from everywhere else, including a pretty solid 39 percent (23 of 59) on corner threes. If you recall, his game-clinching three-pointer in a late-season win over Orlando came from the corner.
When asked what the Wizards need to build upon their success after the Nene trade, Coach Randy Wittman said, “We’ve got to add some talent. We’ve got to continue to add players to this group, there is no question . . . We were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league. Outside shooting. Playmaking on the wings.”
If the Wizards don’t win the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA lottery, they likely will look to address their need for more perimeter help in the draft. They ranked 28th in three-point shooting at 32 percent, showing better proficiency from long distance than only Sacramento and Charlotte.
Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, an active small forward with limited range, is arguably the best perimeter player available, but the Wizards could also use their top five pick on Florida’s Bradley Beal or North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
Crawford could also aid the Wizards’ in their long distance struggles by either spending this offseason improving his proficiency on above-the-break threes or simply taking fewer and focusing on more corner three-pointers. In his first two seasons, Crawford is shooting just 25.2 percent on the longer threes (74 of 293).
But Crawford knows that he has to get better in other areas as well.
“I want to just keep improving on every part of my game,” Crawford said. “Just to become one of the top two guards, combo guards in the league.”
Crawford was the Wizards’ primary scoring option after the all-star break, playing a role that was reminiscent of the final two months of his rookie season. He averaged 17 points, shot 40.5 percent, connected on 29.3 percent from beyond long distance, handed out three assists and 2.9 rebounds after the all-star break. He even supplanted Nick Young as the starting shooting guard before the Wizards dealt Young to the Los Angeles Clippers.
But because his sophomore campaign hardly started the way he had hoped, Crawford realizes that nothing is going to be given to him next season.
“I just need to go in with a clear mind, whether I’m off the bench or starting. A clear mind, positive, and good things happen,” Crawford said.
Crawford admitted that he didn’t handle his early season benching very well. Nick Young replaced him as shooting guard after two games, and Crawford went into a funk that eventually caused his confidence to waver. He regained his rhythm on Feb. 14 in Portland, where he came off the bench to score 21 points as the Wizards upset the Trail Blazers, 124-109.
At the time, it was just Crawford’s third 20-point game of the season. He would top 20 points in 16 of the final 37 games, including a string of seven consecutive.
“At Portland, that was turning point,” Crawford said.
“We had a good practice. We was at the Nike [facility], and everybody was just clicking with each other, hanging out, and then I just finally had the game I needed to know what I can do on a day-to-day basis.”
Crawford should also take note of something else from that game at Rose Garden. He was 1 for 4 on above-the-break three-pointers – and 8 for 12 from everywhere else.