This edition of The Case For… looks at one of college basketball’s fiercest competitors – Marquette’s Jae Crowder. Crowder, the Big East’s Player of the Year, showed the ability to take on whatever his team needed from him, and more. In his 2 seasons at Marquette, Crowder helped lead the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 both years, often while playing multiple roles. Known for his high motor and consistent play and work ethic, Crowder has established himself as one of the more popular players in this pre-draft season, working out for teams all over the league and praise being heaped on him after each one. Having seen Crowder work out in the New Jersey Draft Combine, it is easy to see why teams have been calling constantly. Will all of this benefit Crowder come draft day? Let’s look at The Case for Jae Crowder:
Jae Crowder, Marquette, Senior, 6’6, 240
17.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.5 spg, 49.8 FG%, 73.5 FT%, 34.5 3FG%
The Good – The first thing you will notice about Crowder is that he seems to always be in position to make a play, on both ends of the floor. He keeps his energy levels at a consistently high level throughout the whole game. On the offensive end, Crowder has improved his ability to hit his mid-range jumper with some consistency, as well as showing an ability to hit the spot-up jumper from long-range. He uses screens well to get open looks for his jumper or to make a quick cut towards the basket. Around the basket, he has the ability to handle contact and still finish. While not a great ballhandler, he is careful with the ball and makes few mistakes. Crowder sees the floor well and is good at spotting cutters and hitting them where they can make a play. He is a strong rebounder on both ends, and does a good job using his body to clear space before going strong after the missed shot. Defensively, he positions himself well on and off the ball, and has very strong court awareness. On the ball, he does a good job staying low and moving laterally. He is also does a strong job applying pressure on the perimeter without fouling. Crowder is a strong help defender and is quick to get to loose balls around him. He runs the floor well in transition and can take the ball to the basket off the pass or spot up and hit a jumper.
The Bad – The ability to create his own shot is a major area where Crowder is going to need to improve. Also, while he is careful with the basketball, he needs to be able to handle it well enough to take it from the perimeter to the basket. Also, he needs to improve his ability to hit his jumper, especially from mid-range, off the dribble. On the defensive end, Crowder needs make the adjustment to guarding much quicker players than he did in college. Along with that, his lateral quickness and foot speed should be improved a bit. He is a strong rebounder, but he does need to make sure to not bring the ball down low after grabbing rebounds. It’s not a major issue, but something I noticed more than a few times.
The Verdict – It is tough not to like what Crowder can bring to any team. A strong defender who can guard multiple positions, he also rebounds, finds ways to score, and does anything his team needs him to do to win. While he will need to make some adjustments to the speed of the NBA game, especially if he is guarding 2’s and 3’s out on the perimeter. The main thing is what I talked about in the beginning – Crowder just always seems to be around the ball, whether it is to make a stop on defense or score easy baskets on offense. He makes the little plays that make a big difference in winning games. Also, having had the chance to talk to him and watch him work out for teams, he isn’t going to settle for just making a team, he is going to contribute plenty. His draft value falls at the end of 1st round/beginning of 2nd round, somewhere in the 29-37 range.