Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jordan Crawford vs. Nick Young

In Atlanta, Jordan Crawford wasn't getting consistent minutes (he's a rookie, after all), but that has changed in Washington. Crawford has gone from averaging 10 minutes in 16 games with the Hawks to over 22 minutes in 10 games with the short-handed Wizards. If Nick Young and some others were healthy, Crawford may not be playing quite as much, but that hardly matters since someone on the Wizards always seems to be hurt. Also, it's not the worst thing to see Crawford and some of the other youngsters getting minutes (even if the team is getting routinely destroyed by much better teams).

According to ShamSports, Young has a qualifying offer next season of about $3.7 million. He's likely going to want an extension, though, and if so he'll be looking for a raise. I'm not sure how much money Young would command on the open market, but he'd surely be looking at a bit more than $4 million, at least. The Wizards may want to keep him around, especially since he took a leap this season to scoring 17.7 points a night on 32 minutes per game.

The Wizards drafted Young in the 2007, which is another reason that they'd like to keep him around. They drafted him, he's gotten better, and it would be a shame to let him get away and start playing even better for another team. Still, it would be foolish to overpay for a player like Young, no matter the step forward he's taken this season. Yes, he has been more efficient on offense, but he's certainly not a well-rounded player. His defense has improved in his four years in the league, but he's not a shutdown defender by any means and has his fair share of lapses on the defensive end. He's also not very adept at passing the ball, averaging just 1.2 assists (and 1.4 turnovers). There's no question that Young is a scorer first (and second, and third, etc.).

Crawford, meanwhile, is nearly three years younger than Young and is still under team control for the next few seasons. He's obviously a raw talent, and no one knows exactly what he can do yet, but he has been OK -- at least just as good, or better, than what fans expected when he came from Atlanta. In his 10 games with Washington, Crawford is averaging 11.0 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. He's also shooting just 39.3 percent from the field. He definitely has Nick Young-ish qualities on offense, particularly when it comes to dribbling too much, taking bad shots, and not passing the ball a whole lot. Still, he has shown a knack for getting after it on the defensive end (1.4 steals per game), and it would be difficult to debate his hustle on the court.

I like Nick Young. He's not only one of the best players on the Wizards right now, but he's probably the most entertaining personality of the group as well. But when it comes to overpaying for young, team-drafted talent, the Wizards may have learned their lesson with Andray Blatche. Young may return after this season, particularly since the Wizards will have some money to work with. But it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to commit a bunch of money to Young with a player like Crawford now on the roster. I'm not saying that Crawford can be better than Young in a few years, but the chance exists. And the last thing the Wizards should be doing is handing out long-term deals to slightly better-than-average players.

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