Allen Crabbe and His Future


The Crabbe Man out of Los Angeles, coming to Portland by way of a draft-day trade with Cleveland in 2013, has turned heads this season, acting as an integral piece of the Blazers bench. Standing at 6’6”, Crabbe is blessed with a monstrous 6’11” wingspan and an aesthetically pleasing jumpshot. He has pretty much doubled his minute average from last season, adding on 7 more points on better shooting from all around the court. One of the most intriguing prospects on the young Trail Blazers roster, Crabbe’s potential as an elite 3&D player has put him in the spotlight as free agency approaches.

Through the course of the season, Crabbe has evolved into one of the league’s premier shooters. This season he has an effective field goal percentage of 54%, including 38% shooting from three and 52.3% shooting on two point attempts. Before he was even drafted, scouts were hailing Crabbe for his deadly spot-up shooting abilities, and now that he is getting consistent minutes, he is showing off his skills. Crabbe ranks in the 91st percentile for all spot-up shots, making up about 33% of all of his shots. When Crabbe attempts a spot-up shot, he averages 1.16 points per possession on 59.3% eFG, scoring on 49.2% of all of his spot-up attempts. Crabbe’s biggest strength on offense is definitely shooting from a stand-still, and he obviously knows it.

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When he’s focused, Crabbe is able to find holes in the defense and capitalize, especially in transition.

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Overall, Crabbe is in the top 40% of the league when it comes to transition offense, according to nba.com. Not too bad, considering that he is not exactly renowned for his finishing ability. His numbers in transition are quite similar to his spot-up numbers, boasting a similar PPP and eFG%. Crabbe’s favorite spot to shoot is by far the above-the-break three region, where he feasts on scrambling transition defenders. However, for such an excellent spot-up shooter, his shooting off of screens is not quite near the astronomic efficiency numbers he puts up while standing still. That’s not to say they are not serviceable numbers, putting up 0.92 PPP on 45% eFG and a 41% scoring frequency, but they could be better for sure. While looking at game tape for Crabbe, I noticed that Portland prefers to run Crabbe on shorter routes, often time using handoffs to get Crabbe the ball. This is probably because Crabbe is able to utilize his quickness to catch his defender off guard and get a clean look.

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Even so, Allen could stand to improve his shooting when he has momentum behind him. Adding on to that, Crabbe struggles when forced to dribble.

 

As you can see on the graph, when Crabbe does not dribble he shoots at a superb 62% eFG. His eFG% drops off past that point, and it falls off a cliff when he takes 3+ dribbles, averaging a 32% eFG. The majority of the time Crabbe does not dribble before shooting, and he only dribbles more than once 18% of the time. The biggest knock on Crabbe before the draft in 2013 was that he has little to no consistency when it comes to creating his own shot, and that flaw still shines through today. 84% of Crabbe’s total field goals have been assisted on, showing that the Portland coaching staff does not really trust Crabbe to create for himself that often. Consistency in general is something that Crabbe could really benefit from working on, as he will often alternate between week long periods of great scoring and periods of intense drought.

On the opposite end of the ball Crabbe seems to perform about as well as one would expect a thin and lanky young wing to. Thanks to his insane wingspan and passable acceleration, Crabbe is excellent at closing out on shooters, even allowing himself a little bit of leeway to make mistakes. Compared to the rest of the league, Crabbe is in the top quarter when it comes to spot up defense, allowing 0.88 PPP on a 45.4% eFG and a scoring frequency percentage of 33%.

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Although he was a step behind after the second Faried screen, Crabbe recovers and still gets a good contest on Harris' shot. Crabbe can also utilize his dragon-esque wingspan to bother or sometimes completely shut off passing lanes and influence his matchup.

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In this clip, Crabbe shades toward his big man by using his arms to discourage a pass to Diaw. He is then able to keep up with Ginobili and contest as a Davis rotation convinces Manu to put up a floater. 

Even so, Crabbe’s skinny frame makes it hard for him to play defense on a truly elite level. Larger players can easily bully him out of the way, especially in the post, and screeners are often able to keep Crabbe a step behind his man. Like I mentioned earlier, his wingspan allows him to cover some of his shortcomings, but Crabbe could definitely stand to gain a few pounds. When Crabbe is matched up against slower or smaller offensive players, he is able to perform much better. Overall, he’s a good pick to guard the second best wing player on the other team.

Being that Crabbe was a second round pick in 2013, he is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, with Portland having the option to extend a qualifying offer to him this coming offseason for about $1.1 million in 2017. If Portland puts the qualifying offer on the table, Crabbe will be a restricted free agent, meaning that any team can offer Crabbe a contract, but Portland has an opportunity to match any external offers. If Portland does not accept the qualifying offer, Crabbe would become an unrestricted free agent, allowing any team to sign him without objection from Portland. The Blazers are expected to have about $32 million free this coming offseason, thanks to the cap jump currently expected to reach $89 million. Being that Crabbe’s maximum contract this coming offseason would be approximately $21.76 million, the Blazers would be able to match any offer placed before Crabbe should they extend him the qualifying offer. Compared to players with similar WS/48 numbers this season, Crabbe would probably be worth about $6.43 million per year in a normal off season. Thanks to the cap jump, however, the next few off seasons will be anything but normal. Adjusted for the cap increase, Crabbe would be worth $8.53 million per year, and $10.35 million per year adjusted for the 2017 off season, when the cap will potentially reach $108 million. We all know about how infatuated the league has been with skilled 3&D players lately, so a team high on Crabbe’s skills may very well offer him upwards of $14 million, based on contracts like DeMarre Carroll's. I can’t really see a team offering him the max, although the salary jump might convince some GMs to lower their inhibitions. Unless Crabbe and Portland come to an agreement to forgo the formalities of a qualifying offer and instead offer him a contract on their own terms, I think Portland will look to match pretty much any reasonable deal that comes Crabbe’s way. A deal worth about $8.5 million would leave PDX with $23.5 million free to either re-sign their other free agents or perhaps retool yet again. As of right now though, Crabbe is a crucial piece to the Blazers bench and their growing cast of elite shooters, so hopefully he will continue to make contributions as Portland makes their final playoff push.

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