Jordan Crawford didn’t complain about opening the season as a reserve behind Bradley Beal, but he also hasn’t accepted the role as some sort of season-long punishment.
“We’re going to see how it goes throughout the season,” Crawford said last week, when asked about his role. “I know what I’m capable of. The players and coaches know what I’m capable of. We’re just going to play it out throughout the season.”
Crawford has led the Wizards in scoring in each of the first two games and averaged 16 points and four assists. He contributed 21 points on 8 for 14 shooting in an 89-86 loss to the Celtics on Saturday at Verizon Center and perhaps could’ve done more damage if not for suffering a sprained left ankle in the final period.
“He came right in and got it going right away,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Crawford. “There was no warmup. That’s what you want from a guy like that, coming off the bench.”
As Beal tries to find a comfort level after being thrust into a starting role at just 19, Crawford continues to lean on past experience. Crawford was shaken for several weeks last season after Nick Young re-signed during training camp, believing Flip Saunders hadn’t given him a fair shot to compete for the starting job.
He struggled early on with a backup role before eventually elevating his level of play and taking the starting job from Young, who was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline. Crawford started 30 of the final 32 games last season and was forced to miss the final two with a sprained right ankle.
A better attitude has helped Crawford respond to his current situation in more positive manner. He is even encouraging Beal, who has scored just 10 points on 2 of 13 in his first two games. Crawford believes that the rookie can’t always sit back and wait for something to happen.
“You just got to aggressive,” he said. “It’s not really his game to force it. He like to let the game come to him, but as a two-guard in this league, you’ve got to be aggressive and bring some of the attention to you on defense and that opens it up for other players.”
Crawford made two three-pointers against the Celtics but was most effective attacking the basket for high-percentage layups and floaters.
“I just looking for spots on the floor that’s open and just taking advantage of it,” Crawford said. “Just being aggressive. Trying to loosen up the defense a little bit and take what they give us.”
The Wizards have outscored their opponents by 17 points when Crawford has been on the court this season. Not bad, considering the Wizards have been outscored, 183-170, so far this season.
Crawford was forced to leave early in the third quarter against Boston when he sprained his left ankle during a collision with Celtics forward Jeff Green. He returned about four minutes later, but didn’t score again, missing his lone three-point attempt with 86 seconds remaining.
After the game, Crawford left the locker room with his left ankle taped, didn’t limp and pledged that he would be ready for Wednesday’s rematch against the Celtics.
“I love playing Boston,” Crawford said, recently.
But Crawford believes that the Wizards need to work on improving their offensive execution to score more points. The Wizards currently rank 29th in the NBA with an average of just 85 points per game.
“We be forgetting plays that we be going over a lot and I think that’s hurting us,” Crawford said. “We’re going to have to generate some offense. We’re going to have to do something. We’re ahead on the defensive end. We have to buckle down and execute on offense.”