How Good is Jae Crowder?

Jae Crowder will have a meaningful role for this year's Cleveland Cavaliers. How will the Cavs utilize him? What are his strengths? Does the perception match reality? We have some answers.

Jae Crowder is Cleveland's newest darling. He went from being a secondary piece of the Kyrie trade to the focus when news of Isaiah Thomas’s (apparently) not-healed hip became part of the public subconscious (during editing, the Cavaliers revealed that Thomas is expected to be back by January 1). But how good is Crowder? He was the starting small forward for the No. 1 seed in the east last year, but it was far from being "his" team. He wasn’t the offensive focus and very rarely had plays drawn up for him. He wasn’t “the guy” in almost any situation. But he thrived. How?


As I’ve mentioned before, Crowder’s efficiency stats from last season are shockingly good. Per Synergy (where all points per possession or PPP stats will be coming from), Crowder was in the 95th percentile in the league last year. On possessions that ended with him having the ball, he scored 1.116 PPP. Among players with at least 275 possessions, Crowder was 15th best in the NBA behind hyper-efficient scorers like Kyle Korver, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Durant, and, interestingly enough, Isaiah Thomas.

The majority of his possessions came on spot-up attempts, which is nice for Cleveland. A full 93% of Crowder’s threes last year - he took 5.5 per game - were assisted, per Basketball-Reference. LeBron creates spot-up attempts for everyone around him, so his workload shouldn’t change much in that regard. While the drive-and-kick game might take a step back without Kyrie's driving ability, the Cavs are impeccable floor-spacers.

The Cavaliers, like many other teams, put a ton of value on the corner-three. While the Cavs had Korver, Smith, and Love attempting two corner-threes per game (Korver hit a staggering 63.4% of them from the left corner, furthering the point that LeBron passing to him at the end of Game 3 was the correct move), the Celtics had nobody average more than 1.5 from the two corners. Crowder managed just 1.3 corner-attempts per game, but he made over 45% of them. He should get more attempts in Cleveland.   Imagine how often we might see this for the Cavs.