The education of Jordan Crawford started at the Las Vegas Summer League and continued at “Gurg’s” camp in the same city.
Those were just remedial classes, though.
The real coursework started when Hawks camp opened last week and Crawford’s competition included an All-Star and Sixth Man Award winner instead of rookies and fringe free agents.
“It’s through the roof,” Crawford said. “One day you are checking Jamal. The next day you are checking Joe. The next day you are checking Jeff.”
In addition to the difficulty of those assignments, Crawford is adjusting to a heavy course load. He admits that the two-a-day practices, long sessions and running of L.D.’s camp were “real demanding” physically.
“The conditioning is the hardest part,” he said.
Considering all those factors, it’s no surprise that camp observers say Crawford’s performance has tailed off a bit after a quick start, especially on defense. That’s a reflection of the quality of his opponents, his shortcomings as a defender coming out of college and his slight build now being tested by the rigors of banging with NBA bodies.
Crawford said his spirits are up: “I feel real good. Just get better every day, learn from the coaches.”
J.J. said he tries to “stay in his ear” to let the rookie know this is all part of the process.
“It’s hard, especially defensively, at the two coming into this league [and] chasing guys off picks,” J.J. said. “I think that’s one of the main things you have to learn how to guard guys coming off down screens and things like that. It’s tough.
“But he’s a quick learner. He’s been great in camp. I look forward to getting out there on the court and playing with him.”
Crawford, of course, is more advanced offensively. In the limited practice time I’ve watched, he’s shown no fear of going hard to the basket or taking shots. He’s hasn’t made a lot that I’ve seen but he’s getting open.
“He’s a scorer,” J.J. said. “That’s how great scorers are, man. As he learns this offense and learns the NBA game he is going to only get better. He is someone everyone is going to have to look out for.”
Crawford also has shown a willingness to pass. He has good court vision and timing when passing, something he showed at Summer League and that has carried over.
Based on limited observation, I’d say he seems to be a good fit for L.D.’s offense because of his ability to slip into space and quickly make decisions with the ball.
“The thing that intrigues me about him is he has such a mentality of wanting to be the best that he gives it his all on everything we do, especially offensively,” L.D. said. “He wants the ball and he wants to be in position where he can do what he does best. Now he has to learn how to play with all the other guys and within the system. But he’s a talent.”
L.D. added with a grin: “He is learning. But I am sure he is learning, too, it is a little different on this level.”