January has been a crazy month for the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Jordan Crawford. In the first month of this year, both have hit game winners for the Wizards — Beal on January 7th vs. the Thunder and most recently Crawford on January 21st vs. the Blazers.
So while these two have both contributed to Washington’s January success, the question is can they co-exist on the same team playing similar roles? Or are they both counteracting each others development and impact they can have on the court?
This is just a small 8 game sample size, but Bradley Beal seemed to really pick his game up and put it all together when Jordan Crawford sat out a 4 game stretch recently due to an ankle injury:
As you can see above, the large increase in Beal’s stats corresponds with the increase in court time he saw in Crawford’s absence. Clearly Crawford doesn’t impact Beal’s shooting stroke when he is on the court, but in the four games Jordan sat out, Bradley played an average of 38.4 minutes per game. In the 4 game since Crawford has returned, that playing time has dropped to 28.7 minutes per game.
Beal averaged 20.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while Crawford sat out. During that stretch, he shot 50.1% from the floor (29/57) on 14.3 shots per game. Those numbers drop pretty dramatically when Crawford returned, as Brad averaged 12.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and .8 assists per game. His shooting percentage dropped to 45.2% (19/42) and shots per game drop almost 4 to 10.5 per game.
Clearly I am in the pro-Beal category as most Wizards fans are, but where does this leave Crawford? What are the options for the Wizards?
I have come up with 4 options for this situation: do nothing, assign more concrete roles, try and play them together, or make a trade.
This results in more of the same, and unfortunately is the most likely to occur. Randy Wittman continues to ride the hot hand and Beal and Crawford’s playing time continues to fluctuate game in and game out. We will keep seeing sparks of good games from both players followed by let downs due to the sporadic court time. Both players long term development will be hampered as well.
Again, being in the pro-Beal camp, my scenario here would be to his benefit. Bradley Beal would get the starters minutes and would play 35+ a night. Jordan Crawford would be relegated to regular bench minutes, say 20-25 a night, where he would be used primarily as a scorer off the bench. This would also lend to the two sharing some court time, which leads to the next option (which would also take some rotation adjustments by Wittman).
Play Them Together:
There are many situations where going small would be to the Wizards advantage, case in point during last night’s loss to the Jazz when they should have had a lineup consisting of Wall, Crawford, Beal, Ariza, and Nene/Okafor instead of putting two centers on the floor when scoring was needed. I am not saying Beal and Crawford together on the court at the same time would be automatically successful, but I think it is something this team could try to look at a little more, particularly in situations where small ball would be to their benefit.
Trading Beal is out of the question. That only leaves moving Crawford. Crawford has some decent trade value as a bench scorer that is still on his rookie deal. I am not saying the Wizards should move him just to move him, but if the right scenario came up that would bring Washington a player for their long-term future or a future asset, it should at least be considered. This would open up more playing time for Beal, as well as possibly help the team moving forward.
I don’t particularly want to see Crawford moved, but he is not the type of player that Bradley Beal is going to be. I think we know what kind of player Jordan is, and that is a valuable scorer off the bench and I believe he would be a very good asset on a better team than the Wizards. No matter what happens moving forward, I hope it is something. I believe the “doing nothing” option is the worst one for the team. I want to see growth out of Beal, and I don’t want that growth being stunted by playing 35 minutes one night and 20 the next like it seems we have done with all of our young players the past 5 years.