The Washington Wizards knocked off the mighty Detroit Pistons at the Phone Booth in D.C. on Tuesday, with John Wall and Andray Blatche providing some awesome numbers. Jordan Crawford scored a bunch too (17), and is actually becoming a bit of an NBA scorer in his rookie season.
After the game, Wizards franchise owner Ted Leonsis blogged about the promise of the team and wrote that "a new big three has announced its arrival -- Wall, Crawford and Blatche." There's one problem with this belief. Well, there are actually two huge, glaring problems. But we'll discuss one here: Jordan Crawford isn't necessarily good just because he scores a lot.
Crawford has scored well since arriving in D.C. He's averaging 16.6 points per game as a Wizard, and has nine 20-point performances in 21 games. Productive? No doubt. But there's a cost for each shot Crawford takes, and the fact remains that he is wildly inefficient, even by rookie standards.
In the last five seasons, one other rookie has taken at least 10 field goal attempts a game and had a True Shooting percentage under .475: Adam Morrison, the No. 3 pick in 2006 and a player currently out of the league. Extend that back 10 seasons and you can add only Dajuan Wagner to that list. Wagner lasted 103 games in the NBA, though awful medical issues can be blamed for that.
Crawford could and should have a better career than either, but that's not a good record of success for prolific and impotent rookie shooters. Also consider that Crawford is 22; this isn't a 19-year-old still learning basketball. Leonsis is brilliant, and knows that Crawford has a lot of work to do to become a true member of any team's core.
This isn't an indictment of hope, just a word of caution to fans who see the gaudy point totals (125 over his last five games) but might miss the context (104 field goal attempts and 27 free throws to get those points, for a True Shooting percentage of .539, or below league average, during this "hot streak"). Crawford is producing, but he's not productive, and there's little in the record to indicate things will snap into place and he'll become an efficient scorer someday soon.
(The other huge, glaring problem with this Big Three? Notice that none of those three players are even passable defenders at this point. Wall should improve, and Crawford has some level of ball-hawking skills he could develop. You might have trouble finding a dozen people who can be convinced Blatche won't be an eternal minus on defense, even at a Blatche family reunion.)