It has been reported by multiple outlets this morning that free-agent Jamal Crawford has chosen the Portland Trail Blazers over the Sacramento Kings. Crawford was apparently weighing his options and made, what most would consider, the logical decision. Sacramento has a log-jam of similar players, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas and John Salmons. Portland, however, after the Roy retirement, had two unproven players (Elliot Williams and Nolan Smith) backing-up Wesley Matthews.
Crawford helps fill a major need for Portland in the fact that he can create his own shot. At the two-guard position, he is skilled off the dribble, something that Wesley Matthews is not very good at, at least not yet. Also, Crawford, just by signing with Portland, already becomes their most clutch shooter. Raymond Felton has hit the big shot before, too, but Crawford has a history of hitting tough shots while being draped by defenders late in games.
With all of the jokes about Portland being the “losers” in the Crawford sweepstakes aside, Portland got something they desperately needed, someone who can put the ball in the basket in more ways than one. He is streaky at times, but far more consistent than Nicolas Batum, and he is a more versatile scorer on the perimeter than Wesley Matthews. Also, with many complaining this would limit the growth for rookies Elliot Williams and Nolan Smith, they are bound to improve anyway. With the insane amount of back-to-backs built into the NBA’s compressed 66-game schedule, the rotations will go deeper and those guys will see the floor plenty. With Crawford, Williams and Smith have a good role model to learn from.
Portland has decided its path, and it is time for Nate McMillan to embrace that his team cannot be the patient half-court team he always desires. Good coaches get their players to buy into their system, but the great ones learn how to evolve (i.e. Gregg Poppovich and Mike Krzyzewski opting for open court, fast-breaking styles later on in their careers, which led to success). Let’s hope McMillan assesses the personnel the right way. Maybe listening to Tupac in practice will get him to embrace “Runnin,’” if so, the Blazers will be “Str8 Ballin.’”