One week until the draft. Today, I offer a quick draft profile on Jae Crowder, serving as my final player report. Regretfully, I missed a number of players including: Jared Cunningham, Henry Sims, and Damian Lillard amongst other. Also, starting today I’ll lay out a draft board; not Cavs specific, but mainly a discussion starter of one person’s ranking of the 2012 draft class. Let’s start with the first two tiers; the best of these players available at #4 is my preference for Cleveland, with the exception of Beal over Robinson.
Tier 1 (50 /50 of making First-team All-NBA):
- Anthony Davis – No need to belabor this.
Tier 2 (50 / 50 of making two or more all-star teams):
- Anthony Davis (Tier 1)
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – In mid-December, I thought he could be the second best player from this draft class, and that has not changed. As the youngest player of the group and with an epic work ethic, a respectable shots develops for him
- Thomas Robinson – Measuring 6’ – 9” in shoes with a 7’ – 3” wingspan quieted many critics. He’s strong, fast, & explosive and finished as the NCAA’s best rebounder. He possesses the ability to eventually match his 18 & 12 at Kansas in the NBA.
- Bradley Beal – The young Gator turns 19 next week, posted solid college numbers, and improved as the season progressed. Coaches love his work ethic and scouts rave about his shooting form, to the extent of drawing Ray Allen comparisons out of high school. Some Cavs fans worry about a dreaded “undersized” back court that served as a major flaw of the Lebron-era Cavs. Remember though, that Delonte West measured two inches shorter than Beal’s barefoot 6’ 3.25”, while Mo Williams stopped an inch short of Kyrie. Here’s a quick rundown of pre-draft heights of some current NBA twos: Wes Matthews – 6’ 4”, James Harden – 6’ 4”, Tyreke Evans – 6’ 4”, Dwyane Wade – 6’ 3.75”, Tony Allen – 6’ 3.5”, Marcus Thornton – 6’ 2.75”, Monta Ellis – 6’ 2.25”, Avery Bradley – 6’ 2”. Perhaps you notice that offensive and defensive standouts make the list, and none is more than three-quarter inch taller than Mr. Beal.
- Andre Drummond – A recent hobby involves scouring the draftexpress measurements database. For Drummond, comparables seriously lack. Nearly seven-feet in shoes…a 7’ – 6” wingspan…280 pounds with only 7.5% body fat…10.8 in the agility drill…32” no-step vert. Oh yeah, and 18 years old. That is a physical & athletic profile unlike many others. At 5 or 6, Drummond could absolutely be the steal of the draft. Or he may never commit to dominating, eventually sign a max contract, and coast for three or four years. His passive post game, poor defensive rebounding, and almost-impossible depths of free-throw shooting all present red flags about his passion & motor, but man, he is really big and athletic.
That’s a solid top five. Today, a deeper look will be given to a potential second round sleeper. Next week, I’ll go deeper down my draft board and provide some Cavs specific draft-day thoughts.
Jae Crowder recently completed his senior year at Marquette as the Big East Player of the Year, stuffing the stat-sheet with 18 points on 60% true shooting, 8 rebounds, 1 block and 2.5 steals a game, with a stellar 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. Well suited to his likely NBA role-player status, his scoring primarily comes off the ball; through offensive rebounds, cuts and spot-ups. Outstanding defensive activity resulted in the NCAA’s tenth most steals per game, for the 14th best adjusted-defense (of 345 according to kenpom.com).
Game Recaps: In Marquette’s second round NCAA tourney victory over Murray State; Crowder posted a robust 17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 steals on 53% true shooting. Scoring ten points on five possessions off cuts or teammate dribble penetration, he excelled at finding holes in the Racer defense, although his shooting range abandoned him, hitting one of five from deep. For an idea of his defensive activity; I made about twenty notes during the game. Not all were positive, but he stays very active & alert and has quick, strong hands. Many of the negative comments relied on an assumption that Crowder stood taller than 6’ 5”. He may struggle defending big NBA small forwards in the post. Routinely doubling & trapping effectively and generally hedging & recovering well on pick-and-rolls, Crowder made his presence felt at this end of the court, including drawing two charges.
During Marquette’s Sweet Sixteen loss against Florida, Crowder struggled with 15 points on 44% true shooting, however he added 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Jumpers constituted most of his fifteen shots, of which he converted a sorry two of ten. Defensively, he looked out-of-sorts also; not recovering well on pick-and-pops, finding himself out of position, or getting beat off the dribble. Positives existed though; trapping & receding to steal a pass and flashing quick, strong hands as help to wrestle the ball from a driving guard. Not a premier final game for Crowder; surely he longs to take the court competitively again.
Summary: Draftexpress listed Crowder’s best case as “shorter-saner-Ron-Artest”; a comparison that I inadvertently stole when describing MKG. Just to be clear, at age 24, Ron Artest earned NBA Defensive Player-of-the-year honors and provided the second-highest scoring on a 61 win team. I view this comparison as very high praise, and do not see Jae Crowder at quite that level.
Viewing the DX database, the shortest small forwards to amount to anything were Aaron McKie and Danny Green, both 3/4” taller than Crowder. Of over 400 players, around 25 measured smaller than Crowder and none registered a notable NBA career. In that regard, I think Crowder can be a trendsetter and prove usable as a short small forward. His strength, motor, defense, set-shooting and high basketball IQ makes him eminently useful. Some contender will snag him late in the first round, and I’ll call him a “shorter, equally-sane Kawhi Leonard”.