After years of scouring the basketball globe, Pelicans guard Jordan Crawford may be on the verge of calling New Orleans home.
The 28-year-old appeared in 19 games for the Pelicans towards the end of last season, notching career highs in both field goal and three-point percentages. Crawford averaged a very respectable 14.1 ppg, only topped by the team’s biggest three stars: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday in that span.
Crawford was a dependable spark off the bench and was quickly dubbed with the famous nickname of “Instant Grits” — easily one of the best monikers in the league. With Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway traded to the Sacramento Kings for Cousins, Crawford was soon signed thereafter to fill the rookie’s void. He proved more than capable of accepting that scoring role, and though we do not expect last season’s numbers to entirely carry over, Crawford has the potential to remain an important weapon for Alvin Gentry.
With the unfortunate hamstring injury to Solomon Hill, three-guard lineups might be imminent. Barring the utmost confidence in recently signed small forward Darius Miller (or finding another cheap reliable replacement at the three), guards E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark and Crawford could all see substantial minutes alongside or intermixed with the starting backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Holiday. Moore will probably receive the most minutes, as he is the best wing defender of the three, however, expect the three-point presence of Ian Clark and the gifted offensive game of Crawford to force themselves into the discussion, too.
One thing that could help separate Crawford from the pack would be an improved effort and proficiency on the defensive end. Although he could put up points seemingly at will last season, opponents had little trouble doing the same on their end. Not surprisingly, Crawford told Kevin back in May that the coaching staff asked him to work on his defense over the summer.
Have the Pelicans given you any kind of guidance on what they want you working on this off season?
Yeah, they want me to work on defense. Getting better on defense allows me to stay on the court. Also, just learn how to play with the other players and with my shooting that’ll be a win-win.
Behind the Pelican’s “big-three” of Holiday, Davis and Cousins, New Orleans is having to work with value deals under the hard cap. Jordan Crawford’s current one-year contract worth $1.7 million is well worth his contributions to say the least. Entering his sixth year in the league, “Instant Grits” will look to be a pivotal piece in the team’s desperate fight for a 2018 playoff berth.
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