Welcome to our Phoenix Suns Season in Review series where we do individual PLAYER REVIEWS of each man that contributed in the 2021-22 season. We go through the roster to analyze what went right/wrong for them, and what they can do to get better for next season.
Check out all players covered so far here: 2022 Phoenix Suns Player Reviews, including Cameron Johnson, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and more.
- Position: Power Forward
- Vitals: 6’6 tall, 235 lbs, 32 years old (July 6th)
- Stats: 9.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game, 39% shooting overall, 34.8% threes, 78.9% free throws (for 39/35/79 splits)
Take a look at how we’ve reviewed Jae Crowder since he joined the team in 2020
Regular Season Recap
Jae Crowder fell off a little bit from his regular-season performance in 2021. After shooting just under 39% from deep in his first go-round with Phoenix, Crowder fell to a disappointing 34% from behind the arc. This combined with his decrease in volume led to teams taking his three-point spacing less seriously and making it easier to sag off to contain drives.
Ultimately this didn’t have a noticeable impact on the standings as the Suns dominated their way to a league-best 64 wins. Crowder still provided his usual hustle and defense (his main positive attributes) and showed why he is one of the most versatile small-ball power forwards the league has to offer even as he approaches his mid-30s.
The most glaring issue with Crowder this past season was his inconsistency. He had more games with fewer than 5 points (8) than with over 15 points (7). Scoring is not Crowder’s role but his icy-hot shooting stroke makes it hard for him to be a reliable contributor on that end of the floor.
Here is where Crowder’s mediocre season takes a turn for the worst. Outside of the first four games against Dallas, Crowder was terrible this postseason. In the six game series against New Orleans Crowder shot an abysmal 11 percent from deep and made just three triples total. He somehow had more turnovers than made threes.
Crowder was also a foul machine in that series, racking up 5 per game over the last 4. While I admit it is hard not to rack up fouls when you have to guard the likes of Brandon Ingram but if you’re just hacking constantly you’re not really playing the good defense you’re advertised for.
In the second round Crowder was significantly better just on the virtue of his first four games alone where he averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 55-52-71 shooting splits. Despite Crowder’s exceptional shooting, he still posted a negative +/- in three of those four games and had nothing to stop Luka Doncic.
To make up for his great shooting in the early part of the series, Crowder’s cold shooting reared its ugly head once more to the tune of 26-25-100 (nice) shooting splits. In fact, Crowder averaged almost as many fouls (3.7) as points (5.7) in the Suns’ final three games.
Crowder’s biggest strength is clearly his defensive versatility and his team-first hustle attitude. Crowder is willing to be the fake tough guy but is also good at boxing out to help his team rebound and defending the opposing team’s best forward. Crowder may never make an all-defensive team but his value on that end of the floor is clear.
Inconsistency. It’s one thing to be a mediocre shooter all of the time. But Crowder will have stretches where he can’t miss if he tried and follows those up with stretches of 10% shooting. Ultimately when you’re supposed to be one of the major players on a championship team that is not going to get the job done. Going up 3-2 through the first five games of a series doesn’t matter if you shoot 15% the rest of the way and lose 4-3.
What to work on
Shooting. Crowder should spend the entire offseason trying to be more consistent with his stroke. He doesn’t have to be the 39% shooter he was in 2021 but he can’t be the 34% shooter he was this year either.
Crowder has one more year left at $10.1 million before he hits unrestricted free agency. It is currently unclear if the Suns will look to extend him or trade him but regardless Crowder’s mid-level contract value makes him an easy asset to either retain or trade away.
Overall grade as an NBA player: C-
Relative grade to preseason expectation: C+
How do you grade Jae Crowder’s year including the playoffs?
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