But when the Washington Wizards’ season began, that desire got him in a little trouble when he didn’t get an opportunity that he felt he should’ve had a chance to earn. Coming off a solid finish last season as a rookie, Crawford started at shooting guard the first two games for the Wizards, but felt as if he was merely keeping the seat warm until Nick Young regained his conditioning after re-signing with the team during training camp.
“It wasn’t my job at all. I didn’t get a chance to lose it,” Crawford said. “You could all kind of see that I was just holding a position. It wasn’t that they really wanted me to start. That was more disappointing than anything, the fact that I came in wanting more and I was trying to show them that I can bring some winning here, too.”
Another topsy-turvy campaign in Washington is ending with Crawford playing a role similar to the one he had envisioned when he arrived for training camp. He is a focal point of the Wizards’ offense, leaned upon for his playmaking and scoring ability, and making shots as he said he’s being doing “since I popped out.”
Crawford has led the team in scoring since the all-star break and has been given an increased workload since the trade deadline deal that shipped Young to the Los Angeles Clippers. He recently became the first Wizards player since Antawn Jamison more than two years ago to score 20 or more points in seven consecutive games; a feat that is hard to accomplish, no matter how terrible the team is.
“I don’t know if this is exactly how I want it,” Crawford said, cracking a smile. “I want to be racing for a playoff position or something, but it’s all right. I’m playing with confidence, the coach is giving me a lot of nice plays that fit my strong point. It’s been fun.”
Crawford has scored in double figures in 16 of the Wizards’ last 19 games and is averaging 17.7 points and three assists since the all-star break. The production is similar to last season, when he had 16.3 points and 3.9 assists after the break, with Young missing most of that time with a knee injury.
But each quality performance has also raised more questions about his future role with the organization and whether he is a long-term option as John Wall’s back-court mate. The 6-foot-3 Crawford is a volume shooter and admittedly takes some head-scratching shots, with defenders contesting or early in a possession. Coach Randy Wittman is constantly on the second-year guard about his shot selection.
“It’s not a bad shot until you miss it. That’s how it always is,” said Crawford, who is connecting on 40.6 percent of his field goal attempts this season. “I probably do take bad shots, but in a sense, we kind of need some of those shots I take. I can always improve on it and I will.”