Unlike most people around the world, Jordan Crawford has actually had a pretty decent 2016. From the drop of the ball on New Years Day to the time of this piece, Crawford has been an absolute roll no matter where he’s played. At the start of the calendar, Crawford was located in Tainjin, China playing for the Tainjin Gold Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
To say that Crawford dominated during his time in the CBA might be considered as an understatement, as the Xavier alum had the type of season that has rarely been seen in professional basketball. High praise is due to Crawford averaging a jaw-dropping 43.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 48% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc.
Within that 26 game season, Crawford had eight games where he put up more than 50 points. That barrage of 50+ point outings was headlined by a 72 point, 15 rebound outing against the Sichuan Blue Whales, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to push Tainjin to a victory.
Tainjin losing despite phenomenal games from Crawford actually became an unfortunate pattern as the team finished with an atrocious 8-30 record despite the best efforts of their American import.
Following his phenomenal season in China, Crawford basically had the entire international hoops community knocking on his door. Alongside the opportunity of returning to Tainjin, Crawford reportedly spent the summer pondering whether he should spend the 2016-17 season with Maccabi Tel Aviv or Barcelona. Either team gave Crawford the opportunity to compete against elite Euroleague competition, while also receiving upwards of $100,000 for just one season.
However, Crawford surprisingly passed up those lucrative overseas deals by deciding to spend the current season in the NBA D-League with the Grand Rapids Drive. Crawford made that decision to showcase the NBA community that he’s a vastly changed man than what we saw during his first stint in the Association with Atlanta or Washington.
“I decided to play in the D-league because of how the misinterpretation of myself,” Crawford told Ridiculous Upside. “ I felt the D-League was the best way to show these NBA teams what type of locker room guy I am, what type of professional I am, and also show the type of player I am.”
Since he first put on a Grand Rapids Drive jersey, Crawford has continuously showcased that focus on a game-by-game basis. In only 29 minutes per game, Crawford has averaged 22.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 48% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc.
Those averages has allowed Crawford to be one of the most efficient guards in the entire D-League as he maintains a 62% True Shooting Percentage and 1.35 PPS (points per shot). Crawford’s play in the D-League is very comparable to stud Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard who sustains a 60% True Shooting Percentage and 1.43 PPS.
Although Crawford has been fantastic throughout the D-League season, he’s really turned it up a notch over the last five games. In only 28.5 minutes per game, Crawford has averaged 28.5 points, 3 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 58% from the field and 54% from beyond the arc in 9.3 perimeter attempts per game.
Obvious from those unbelievable numbers, Crawford has been as versatile as he’s been efficient. Throughout the season, Crawford has stood as a player that can catch fire from beyond the arc or utilize his great handles to shake the opposition and drive the rim. Crawford’s excellence in both on-ball cuts and perimeter shooting has allowed him to be arguably the most unstoppable offensive weapon in the entire NBA D-League.
As Jordan Crawford closes 2016, he’s vaulted himself to become one of the best prospects in the entire NBA D-League. That elite D-League status could pay dividends for Crawford as the 10-day contract period will begin on January 5th. If Crawford can keep up this incredible offensive play, then there’s a big chance that we’ll be seeing him start his 2017 back in the NBA.