Allen Crabbe took a big leap forward his junior year at California, putting himself on first-round radars with his 18.4-point per game average.
He was one of the top shooters at this year's NBA combine, and if scouts were unfamiliar with him before it, chances are that's no longer the case. Crabbe is a late-rising prospect after putting up impressive numbers both during measurements and athletic testing.
The buzz is getting louder, as Crabbe is no longer considered a potential draft-day sleeper.
Crabbe has excellent size for the position he plays. You can call him a 2-guard or a small forward, but to simplify things, I just refer to him as a wing.
He measured in at 6'6'' with a 6'11'' wingspan, both appealing numbers. He got off the ground for a 36'' max vertical leap, surprising some with his athleticism.
Crabbe isn't the most explosive athlete, and isn't necessarily a high-flying easy-bucket type of guy, but for the position and role he's projected to play, his physical tools work just fine.
Adding strength of course will improve his efficiency as a scorer around the rim, but that's realistically the case with every kid out of college.
Despite Crabbe's ability to score in volume, he's not much of a ball-dominator. Instead of creating shots for himself off the dribble, Crabbe uses off-ball movement to free himself up for scoring opportunities. He reminds me of a young Rip Hamilton, with his ability to come off screens, catch and shoot or slash toward the rim.
Crabbe's ability to score without dominating the ball should allow him to slide into a lineup and complement whatever is in place.
Crabbe isn't quick enough to beat his defender off the dribble, so he chooses to beat him without the ball and use that momentum once he catches it.
Below is a perfect example of how Crabbe use screens to free himself up, keeping his defender on his back hip and one step behind.
Once he catches, he only needs two dribbles to get to the rim and finish. He wouldn't have been able to beat his man with the ball in his hands, but through off-ball movement, he's able to lose him before he catches the rock.
Crabbe is an excellent spot-up shooter with NBA range. He's made 209 threes in three years at California with a career mark of 38.2 percent. He sports excellent rhythm in catch-and-shoot opportunities with a clean, high release that's tough to contest.
Defenders won't be able to play an inch off him at the next level. Coaches will use Crabbe to spread the floor and provide his playmakers with a target around the perimeter.
Shooting Off Curls
Going back to off-ball movement, Crabbe is really effective in the mid-range coming off curls and catching and shooting. He's able to catch, gather and square before rising and firing with balance.
Coaches will love his ability to score with the game slowed down, and in a way that doesn't keep the ball from sticking.
Without the ability to create, Crabbe's ceiling is somewhat limited at the next level. He can finish plays as a shooter and cutter, but playmaking off the dribble is not really his forte.
Crabbe will need to improve his isolation game if he wants to take that next step as a scorer.
Finishing at the rim could also be a challenge, though most of his work is likely to come from eight feet away and out.
Crabbe has also been criticized for his defense. Some wonder whether he has the strength and motor. Depending on the coach, this could keep him Crabbe from getting consistent minutes. Proving he can D up should be a point of emphasis for Crabbe during workouts and training camp.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Crabbe is an excellent off-ball scorer, which is exactly what his role will be at the next level. Coaches will appreciate his shot-making skills and ability to move without the ball.
Many volume scorers in college struggle to make the NBA transition because they aren't used to playing without the ball in their hands. This is where Crabbe differs, as he doesn't need it in his hands in order to be effective.
After his strong showing at the combine, Crabbe is moving up boards as a potential mid-first round pick. He'll be competing with other guards and wings like UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., Georgia's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, New Mexico's Tony Snell, San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin and North Carolina's Reggie Bullock.
Crabbe will have plenty of competition, but he'll try and convince teams that his shooting stroke and off-ball scoring instincts are all top-notch, and that he's capable of becoming a dedicated NBA defender.
Anywhere from outside the lottery should be a possible landing spot for Crabbe.
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