Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Season in Review: Javaris Crittenton

Javaris Crittenton had a tough rookie campaign. Buried on the bench in LA he rarely was given an opportunity to show what he was capable of doing. Then Chris Wallace demanded he be included in the trade for Pau Gasol (LA was rumored to want to give the Grizzlies someone else) and he was freed from purgatory known as the bench but also moved from PG to SG/SF. Quite a change for the 6-4 19 yr old from Georgia Tech.

Javaris adapted and was one of the bright spots coming off the bench in the 2nd half of the season. Teamed with Kyle Lowry and Juan Carlos Navarro, JCrit became a playmaker. Not exactly a player who set up plays but a maker of plays. He made momentum changing plays. He crashed the lane, he found open players and basically he was fun to watch, something lacking for most of the season in Memphis. The one drawback was JCrit's inability to shoot the ball. He averaged only 40% from the field and 28% from the arc with the Grizzlies. Crittenton has never been a good outside shooter and will need to work extensively on that part of his game if he wants to become a top notch player in the NBA.

JCrit is definately a player. For the first time Memphis has someone in the backcourt who has superior athletic ability. He may not have JWill's vision and creativity but he isn't far off and considering his age there is no reason to think he may not reach that level in the future (unless you are the typical Memphis fan who believes nothing good will even happen in Memphis). He hasn't developed his outside shot yet but JCrit is a far better defender than anyone else in the backcourt already and has the physical ability to overpower smaller guards and the speed to get by bigger guards. He just needs to slow the game down in his mind so he can make better decisions with the ball. JCrit often forced shots in the paint after overcommitting to the drive. This is a typical mistake for younger players and should be addressed over the off-season.

When Javaris had it going however he really was something fun to watch. In February he had 22 points at Houston. He had 23 points against the New York Knicks in early April. He scored 17 points against Chicago in a particularly promising effort combining the 7-15 shooting with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. There were glimpses of greatness but they were surrounded by periods of ineptitude as JCrit's poor shot selection and difficulty adjusting to an unfamiliar role with the team created more problems than usual for a rookie.

So what does the future hold for JCrit? It has been said that JCrit would be playing PG in the summer league this year not SG/SF. That should give the Grizzlies a chance to see him at his more natural position. He would bring size to the PG position that Memphis doesn't currently have which would be a positive? He also has all summer to work with Shooting Coach Mark Price in Atlanta (JCrit is from Atlanta) in an attempt to improve that area of his game. It is extremely fortunate that JCrit's hometown is also the Grizzlies shooting coach's hometown, both played point guard at Georgia Tech and Price knows what the team wants from JCrit. If he works hard this summer there should be dramatic improvement in that area.

Defensively JCrit just needs to earn the refs respect because the effort and ability is there. Rookies aren't going to get calls in the show and JCrit needs to stay positive during the adjustment period to learn what refs will accept and what they won't. Right now JCrit is the #3 PG, the #3 SG and the #3 SF. He is also one of the youngest players in the league who will need to earn court time to improve. This is an important time for JCrit and he has a lot of pressure on himself. As a young guard in the league and the named player wanted in a trade for a star he has to feel some pressure to perform to justify the team's desire in him. Adding to that pressure will be determining how he gets on the court next season with Conley, Lowry, Miller and Navarro currently ahead of him on the depth chart.

Javaris did get some good news on Friday as Marc Iavaroni was retained as head coach with a mandate to improve defensively. Crittenton is better defensively than Navarro or Miller already. That gives him an opportunity to break into the rotation at the shooting guard position. While not the position he has played most of his life he has enough size and speed to perform that role. The key to his future with the Grizzlies will be his ability to hit the outside shot.

BallHype: hype it up!


Black said...

If there is any consolation to a tough rookie year for JCrit. On Nba 2k8 he is a beast, he basically is already Derek Rose, he has great handles and ability to finish at the basket, plays defense and can hit the open 3.

So thank you JCrit for allowing me to still be able to compete online with the lose of Gasol.

ChipC3 said...

Well that is a benefit of the trade no one has discussed before.

Anonymous said...

Watch out for this kid, he has some real talent. I think he has a chance to be a huge star in the league.