Jae Crowder came to Miami via trade on February 6, and then helped the Heat march the NBA Finals in the Bubble. His addition served its purpose as he added defensive versatility and grit to their lineup. The Suns signed him via free agency on November 21 to a three-year, $29.1M contract and hopes are high that he will be worth every penny.
So who is Jae Crowder and what should we expect?
The casual fan of NBA basketball may not even know who Jae is. By casual, I’m referring to the guy who gets his scores from the 10:25pm slot on the nightly news, right after Kristy Siefkin breaks down the weather. For those fans Crowder is the guy who wears a #99 jersey and rocks a Larry Fitzgerald-esque hairstyle.
Bright Side readers are not the casual fan. You know who Crowder is. You know his pedigree. You know his résumé. You know his toughness, his positional flexibility, and his desire to be in Phoenix.
The Suns JAM Session Podcast, your neighborhood friendly pod that records twice-per-week via live-stream (Sunday and Thursday night at 8:00pm MST), recently invited Brandon Di Perno on to the show to discuss Jae Crowder. Brandon, senior editor for SB Nation’s Miami Heat site Hot Hot Hoops, may have only analyzed the Crowder for 20 regular season games, but he also experienced 21 postseason games en route to the Finals.
Q: What were your initial thoughts when he joined the Heat?
Brandon Di Perno: I always liked Jae Crowder. I thought it was a sneaky trade to get Andre Iguodala but to sneak in Jae Crowder at the same time. He just felt like a guy who fit the Heat culture. He played with Jimmy Butler in college. It felt like he was just gonna squeeze in there.
What I didn’t expect from Jae Crowder was him to shoot 45% from the three-point line. Incredible. It just seemed like every time Jae Crowder took the court he wouldn’t miss and for a while that seemed to be the case.
Q: What was the reaction from the fanbase when you joined your squad?
BD: I think most people were [excited]. Most people questioned Andre Iguodala over Jae. Jae just seemed to like he was just going to lock right in and contribute right away. That being said, he did. He went to work right away even if it was just a handful of games before we went into lockdown and the Bubble started.
Q: You’re going to miss him, right?
BD: I’m still a little bit salty guys, I’m not going to lie. I really like Jae. He became one of my favorite players from that Heat team. If you back and watch the Bubble journey his defense was astounding. The defense he played on Giannis in the East semis was just so good. He didn’t back down once.
You’re getting a guy that brings 100% energy all of the time. He’s a good mentor to the young guys. He’s not very old . He’s like 30.5 years old according to Cleaning the Glass. He’s still young, he’s gonna contribute, he’s gonna have bin games.
Jae had a pretty weird stretch of time where he just wasn’t in the right place in terms of teams, and I think you could see that by the way he played. I think when he’s happy and he’s locked in you get performances like how he played for Miami.
He turned down a big offer from Dallas to come to Phoenix because he believes in what you guys are doing. I think that says everything it needs to.
Q: Why do you think he didn’t re-sign with the Heat?
BD: We couldn’t offer him long-term flexibility. I think he wanted a long-term deal. I think if the Heat were able to give him a three-year then he probably would’ve re-signed with us. Miami’s going all-in on 2021, even with the Bam [Adebayo] extension. They’ll figure out a way. Andy Elisburg plays the best cap gymnastics I’ve ever seen in my life. Acquired Jimmy Butler with no cap space.
Everybody else got two-year deals. Goran [Dragic] got a two-year deal, Meyers [Leonard] got a two-year deal. They’re figuring it out. And that’s the only reason why I didn’t think he came back.
Q: What are you going to miss most about him?
BD: I’m going to miss his tenacity, man. Jae Crowder didn’t back down from anybody. It was like having a young Udonis Haslem on the court, even with Udonis screaming from the bench.
Jae delivered at times where we absolutely needed him to deliver. There’s stretches in that Celtics series where Jae is just not shooting well and then all of the sudden he hits two key threes when we need it the most. There’s times in the Bucks series where Jae stepped up and bodied Giannis. I’m really going to miss that.
Q: We’ve talk the positives. What are his weaknesses?
BD: Jae, despite the fact that he can go on long stretches where he shoots 45% from the three-point line, can go on really long stretches where he does not. And they will bug you.
Jae, as a shooter, is the type of shooter that I love. He never stops shooting. He’ll shoot through a slump. It’ll lead to streaks where he just doesn’t miss but when he does miss it gets frustrating, most likely because you get used to him making all the shots.
Thank you Brandon for joining the show and providing your insight.
Based on everything we hear, coupled with previous knowledge, he is definitely a solid addition to the lineup. He isn’t one of the “fake tough” guys in the league. He’s “real” tough. He can shoot, defend, and types his Tweets in ALL CAPS.
And we are glad to have him as a member of this organization and as a part of this team.
For the entire interview, you watch below.