With the 34th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Jae Crowder. Crowder is a 6-foot-6 small forward out of Marquette University, and won the Big East Player of the Year in 2012.
His career in Cleveland didn’t last long as his rights were traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night along with two others picks. He played in the Summer League as a rookie and impressed everyone by averaging 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game.
When Crowder was drafted, he was looked at as a potential rotation player off the bench and someone they could bring along slowly with a veteran-filled lineup. However, with Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki missing games early in the season, Crowder was pushed into the role of a starter.
When those two players came back, he saw his minutes and productivity decrease greatly. He had a decent rookie campaign, averaging 5.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 78 games, including 16 starts.
He brought a lot of energy, but struggled with his shooting percentage. He shot only 38.4 percent from the field and 64.4 percent from the free throw line. Although he didn’t shoot very well, he has the physical attributes and ability to be a top defender in the NBA.
His coach Rick Carlisle compares him to Tayshaun Prince, a player he coached with the Detroit Pistons, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
I expect Crowder to go into the season with a role locked up in the Mavericks rotation. He will still be behind Marion and Nowitzki, but with the Mavericks having let go of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, Crowder may see more time as an undersized power forward off the bench as well as his traditional small forward role alongside Dirk.
He should see his numbers go up slightly, but I don’t envision him averaging more than eight or nine points per game until he gets more consistent from the outside.
Although Carlisle compared him to Prince, I compare him more to Alonzo Gee, who has been able to develop into a better scorer because of his ability to get in the paint and improve his free throw percentage almost every season.