Draft Diamond in Dallas
Things are dull for the Dallas Mavericks right now. There have been some good wins so far in this young season, coupled with some franchise-first losses. OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, and Chris Kaman have lit it up some nights, only to lay eggs in a few recent games. All in all, the beginning of the 2012-2013 season has been about as low-key as any Mavericks season start in over a decade. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but just comes with the territory of playing in a football-crazed area of the country without your star player for the first six weeks of the year. Even considering the circumstances, there have been some pretty terrible periods of basketball played by a franchise that has raised their expectations. For the Mavericks, that means they’re now flying under the radar in Dallas.
Despite all that, one Maverick that isn’t going unnoticed is rookie forward Jae Crowder. Looking back though, there was never a chance that Crowder would keep a low profile.
“We knew coming out of Marquette he was ready to play a man’s game because of how they’re coached in that program,” said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “He’s a four year guy, played in a lot of big games and was Big-East Player of the Year. That’s a big deal.”
With his dreadlocks-for-days hair that he ties into a ponytail and endless energy, Crowder was born to be a fan-favorite. Nine games into his career, he is scoring 7.4 points per game with a surprising 39% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. His stats aren’t world beating, but that’s not why he is getting so much individual attention in Dallas right now. In the same way that high expectations for a team’s results affect fan reaction to certain situations, low expectations for a team’s drafting will draw excitement from a fan base when an exciting prospect, any exciting prospect, appears in their midst.
Though 2009 pick Roddy Beaubois is currently contributing to this Mavs team, Dallas hasn’t seen a legitimate All Star caliber player come up through the draft since the Mavs acquired Josh Howard in the now famous and fabled 2003 draft. For a franchise that has seen the likes of Maurice Ager, Nick Fezekas, Shan Foster, and Dominique Jones come through the Mavs’ system in recent years, even the slightest glimpse of potential, like that shown by Crowder so far this season, creates a buzz amongst Mavs fans.
With that being said, what is to be expected from Jae Crowder? When Beaubois showed flashes his rookie year, most notably in the 2010 Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs, reason was thrown to the wind. Maverick officials and fans alike claimed Beaubois was finally the ‘Robin’ Dallas was waiting for the place next to Dirk Nowitzki’s ‘Batman’. Fair or not, expectations skyrocketed for Beaubois and needless to say, it hasn’t worked out as expected.
So, again, how should the expectations for the 34th overall pick in the 2013 be handled? Despite his useful play so far, the tag as a second rounder should make it easier on Crowder. As it stands now, with the injury problems Dallas is currently suffering through, Crowder is a part time starter at small or power forward who has a high-energy motor and can hit three pointers with regularity. As the season progresses, he will turn into the backup for Shawn Marion at the three.
Is playing 12-15 minutes at the three spot on a solid NBA team good production for a rookie second rounder? Of course.
Can Crowder fill that role for these Mavericks? Definitely.
That’s how simple it can and should be for Jae Crowder this year. Expectations can become a burden when they get out of control and fans lose perspective. Taking Crowder for what he is now, without looking down the road and applying those hopes to this year, will keep Mavs fans in a happy place with the rookie.
As for other aspects of the seasos, well… no promises.