Through 12 NBA seasons, Jamal Crawford has had a roller coaster of a career. He has had more coaches than most players have ever had in their entire playing days, and the Los Angeles Clippers are his sixth team.
Just why Crawford has moved around so much is understandable. He signed a hefty contract with his first team, the Chicago Bulls, and he was honestly overpaid. This carried over to his time with the New York Knicks, who traded him not only to cut the money from payroll, but because he had been exposed as a starter.
This is because as a volume scorer, one who can put up a great number of points in a hurry, Crawford often struggles in a starting role. Based on just how much he has moved in his career, there is really no reason that the man should not be worn out, tired, and anticipating retirement at age 32
Instead, the former Michigan Wolverine is absolutely loving life. His team is 28-8 and owns the best record in the NBA.
In an interview with Lang Whitaker of GQ, Crawford discussed just how much he loves playing for the Southern California phenomenon known as "Lob City."
"When you have a guy like Chris Paul, who's the best point guard in the world, saying I should be an All-Star, and other coaches and players coming up to me and saying I should be an All-Star, it's an unbelievable compliment," says Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. "Because that wasn't the goal heading into the season. The goal is to win a championship, but when you win and you play pretty well, and you start hearing 'All-Star' and 'Sixth Man.' That's really unbelievable."
Crawford is no stranger to compliments, having been named Sixth Man of the Year in 2010, but one can imagine how much better these ones feel. As Crawford noted in his interview, the Clippers' players actually came to him and asked him to join them as their sixth man, and he has flourished in that role since signing a three-year deal over the summer.
He has averaged 16.3 points and shot 35.5 percent from long range, able to make a shot from virtually anywhere on the floor. As an offense-first player, he is a perfect fit for head coach Vinny Del Negro's fast-paced offense. If you look at his shot chart, the number of "sweet spots" he has is mind-boggling.
This can be attributed to Crawford's ability to work with Chris Paul, which he has described as "unbelievable."
Crawford is a scorer, so he's always going to fare better with a solid point guard getting him the ball and/or creating plays for him. More importantly, the better defender in Paul can help Crawford out in the defensive department, and also run with him on a fast break.
A similar game can be played between Crawford and Eric Bledsoe. Granted, Bledsoe is a completely different type of point guard than Paul, as he is more of a slasher and pest than he is a distributor, but his playing style works well with Crawford, too. They play off each other beautifully, and the results speak for themselves.
Like Bledsoe, Crawford can drive the lane and frustrate opposing defenses to no end. Both are incredible on the fast break, and are great fits in the Clippers' system.
That all being said, it's great to see that Crawford has had such a positive experience playing in Los Angeles. He needed a pick-me-up after a forgettable season in Portland, for whom he averaged 14 points per game and shot just 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from long range, and the Clippers have helped turn his tenure in the Rose City into a distant memory.
After a long career with little stability, nor much to play for, the man has finally found where he belongs, and he and the Clippers fans could not be happier.