There are two theories while drafting: taking the best player available and taking a player that fills a team need. If the Oklahoma City Thunder gets a chance in the first round to draft Jae Crowder, he will be the best player available and fill a team need. He proved last year that he has skills by winning the Big East Player of the Year. Also, the Thunder need a combo forward to space the floor and hit open jump shots. Crowder’s offensive and defensive game will be a nice fit for the Thunder.
While playing at Marquette, Crowder played an up tempo, drive and react and fast break offense. The Thunder play a very similar way, but they use on the ball pick and roll more often than Marquette used. Teams double off of Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins who set the pick and want to force those three to shoot the ball or to make a decision with the ball, since offense is not their strength. If Crowder was in a pick in roll with Durant, Westbrook or Harden, it will make the play more effective due to Crowder’s ability to shoot from NBA three point range and his ability to roll. With the improving low post games of Westbrook, Harden and Durant, Crowder can be on the perimeter, ready to catch and shoot, drive or make a pass if they get double teamed on the post. Crowder feels more comfortable on the perimeter which will get bodies out of the lane therefore create driving lanes. Finishing around the basket will then be easier for Durant, Westbrook or Harden.
Crowder is a good help defender and plays passing lanes well which will create more fast break points for the team. His big weakness in his game is guarding the low post. However, with Collison, Ibaka and Perkins he will not need to guard the best low post player on the other team. Crowder’s rebounding will be average at the NBA level although he does attack the ball well when it comes off the rim. In playing with Ibaka, Collison and Perkins, he will see how to be a great defender and could improve.
In summary, Crowder would be the right selection if he is still available when the Thunder select at #28. Offensively he would be good in the pick and roll, spreading the floor to allow easier driving lanes to the basket. Defensively he can cause turnovers by trapping and playing good help defense. Crowder will add depth to a championship level team.
Steven Siewert is a guest correspondent for NetScouts Basketball. The opinions in this article are his and do not necessarily reflect the view of NetScouts Basketball.