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Jae Crowder is the combo forward every contender now wishes it had

There are a lot of parallels between Crowder and Warriors star Draymond Green.

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This is the shorthand version of how one of the league's best two-way combo forwards grew in prominence.

A standout, do-everything college upperclassman fell to the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft because teams didn't know his position. Early flashes of intrigue went unnoticed because of established talent in front of him. Eventually, he found a coach that understood his game, an organization with the right on-court complements to activate his skills and a three-point shot that made him playable.

That's Draymond Green's story, but it also sounds a lot like Jae Crowder's. Crowder is not Draymond Green, but he's at least become Diet Draymond Green this season. He does everything Green can, just a little worse. That's enough to make him the Celtics' best two-way player and a significant asset in trade talks.

One key difference between the two: whereas Green swings up a position in order to speed by bigger players, Crowder swings down one to dwarf his matchup. Boston plays him at both forward spots, but he's particularly unique as a small forward, where his combination of length, quickness and strength intimidates most of his competition.

That matters in one-on-one situations, where he's very hard to beat. He's too strong to drive through and too quick to drive around.

It also matters in pick-and-roll situations, because it's hard to shed a defender that long and quick. Even if he's screened, he doesn't need to travel far to recover because of his arms.

But it especially matters when Crowder's lurking off the ball. He can plant himself at the free throw line, spread his arms and cover two players at once. Just getting passes around him can be a chore.

The surprise so far is how much Crowder's offense has improved. Hitting threes is a major plus: he's currently making 35 percent on nearly five a contest, a career high. Teams actually have to guard him out there, which breathes just a little more space into Boston's cramped attack.

That's good because Crowder now has the defensive respect to attack gaps and make quick decisions. His playmaking is underrated, particularly when he can slip into a small driving lane. He's not much of a pick-and-roll player himself, but if someone else tilts the defense, Crowder will find a way to break it down or at least keep it tilted. His first step isn't lightning quick, but if he gets his shoulder by a defender, he's too strong for them to recover.

The Celtics need Crowder because he maximizes his dribbles. Their guards all like to pound the rock or shoot quickly, even as Brad Stevens' offense keeps them buzzing off the ball. Crowder can take a backseat as they do the work, then immediately zip to life once he has an opening. That's why the Celtics offense is more than seven points better per 100 possessions with him in the game.

He's not the Celtics' best player, nor should he be untouchable in a trade. Still, you can understand Celtics fans' reluctance to move him. Very few role players in the league do as much while taking as little off the table. Maybe the only other one plays in Oakland.