Phoenix Suns: Jamal Crawford Signing Doesn’t Help Their Young Guards

Jamal Crawford, Phoenix Suns
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are a team that does not project to be competitive this season. The Western Conference is absolutely loaded with talent, and at the point guard position, that’s even more so. The Suns do not have a viable passing point guard on their roster right now, and a recent signing of veteran combo guard Jamal Crawford certainly does not qualify as that, either. According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic , Phoenix and Crawford agreed on a one-year deal.

Devin Booker is a player that is going to fill it up in a variety of ways, and is improving as a passer, but with pieces that need the ball in their sweet spots in Trevor Ariza, Mikal Bridges, Ryan Anderson and at times, Deandre Ayton surrounding Booker, the Suns still could use a noteworthy pass-first guard. They had Shaquille Harrison on the roster, who was a solid defender, but waived him and Darrell Arthur yesterday, likely due to maximum roster restrictions, per Charania.

Crawford has had a heck of a career in the NBA. In 19 seasons, he has averages of 15.0 points and 3.4 assists in 29.9 minutes per game. He’s produced his share of highlight-reel crossovers and nasty step-backs mid-range jumpers, but he has a career effective field goal rate of just 47.8 percent, per Basketball Reference. He’s been one of the best microwave bench scorers ever, as he’s been honored as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year three times.

That’s no small feat, and I’m not saying that he ever couldn’t produce in the Association. Last season, he posted 10.3 points and 2.3 assists in 20.7 minutes per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Nonetheless, Crawford is not a player that I would want a young guard to model his game after with how the league is going.

Crawford has always been a player that could create his own shot well, but has he ever been an efficient scorer? Not really.

Crawford has only had one full season where he shot over 44.0 percent from the floor, and that was the 2009-10 season with the Atlanta Hawks, in which he shot 44.9 percent. There was one instance where he shot 47.6 percent, but that in just 23 games in the 2001-02 season with the Chicago Bulls. His career marks from three-point land include a 34.9 percent hit rate on 4.9 attempts per game, which is decent, but not spectacular.

Jamal Crawford will give some of the Phoenix Suns some pointers on how to execute better in isolation situations, and he’ll give Booker some tips on how to get more mismatches in pick-and-roll situations. That’s probably good in the short term, but it’s not as if Phoenix is going anywhere next season or the season thereafter. The Suns still need a point guard for the future, and our own Mark Wilson mentioned Terry Rozier of the Boston Celtics as a potential player who could fit that bill via trade.

Rozier is a really good backup point man right now for Kyrie Irving; he’s a player that has made a name for himself as a solid distributor and efficient shooter, and as a plus defender against opposing point guards. While Rozier can make plenty of things happen with the ball, like Irving, he is not a player who needs to have a really high usage to make his presence felt on the floor.

Crawford is not a player I would want mentoring either Booker or Rozier, given that he’s an isolation-dominant player that has not been efficient and is a career minus defender both on and off the ball. I’m going to give him a pass on the defensive end the last few seasons, given that he’s getting up there age (as he’s 38-years old now), and defending on the perimeter is no easy task no matter how old or young you are.

However, a career defensive box plus-minus of -2.4 (per Basketball Reference) is not a great sign. The Suns need players who are going to defend, or at least teach the young pieces how to defend with better technique. Ariza should help Josh Jackson (who projects as a tremendous defender soon) as far as wings go, but Jamal Crawford is not going to help the rest of the Phoenix Suns as a perimeter defensive presence.

This team is young, yes, and they needed some more veterans on the perimeter, but Crawford is not a player in today’s uber-efficiency driven NBA that I would want mentoring young guards. For a contending team that would be in the market for a short spurt bucket-getter, I would understand signing Jamal Crawford.

For the Suns, though, I’m skeptical.