Jamal Crawford and Monta Ellis are two of the most exciting and explosive offensive players in the league, two microwaves that can heat up in a matter of seconds. Whether it is Crawford’s insane ballhandling or Ellis’ out-of-this-world speed, it’s hard not to love their games, even if the analytical crowd will often call them inefficient.
This year, they’re both playing some of the best ball of their careers, and there’s a chance they meet in the playoffs. Let’s hope that happens. For now, we’re arguing over who is better. Jamal Crawford or Monta Ellis… We argue. You decide.
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Jamal Crawford is the second-best shooting guard in the Western Conference. Think about it and you’ll realize that sentence isn’t as unfounded and outlandish as you might have thought.
James Harden easily takes the nod as both best two guard in the West and NBA currently, but with Kobe Bryant‘s season derailed by multiple injuries and Manu Ginobili not having the same impact he once did–whether it’s because of age or Gregg Popovich‘s “veteran limit restrictions” no one knows for sure–Crawford is next in line. This, along with his new opportunity as a starter, have allowed Crawford to set a blaze to opponents.
Prior to his strained calf injury, Crawford had been averaging 29.4 PPG on 46.7 percent shooting from the field and 41.8 percent from three in seven games. Behind his and Blake Griffin‘s improved play, the Los Angeles Clippers became one of the hottest teams in the league during January and February, winning 19 of 26 games since 2014 started.
However, at 33 years old–soon to be 34–I am not foolish enough to believe that Crawford has suddenly jumped the barrier into superstardom. What I am saying is that the talent that many have known Crawford to possess for years is clicking in full force. He won’t join the ranks of the Bryants, Kevin Durants or even Carmelo Anthonys of the game, but with the ball in his hands, Crawford is just as dangerous as any of those previous three players I mentioned.
After spending seasons with the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors, Crawford really came into his own during the 2009-10 season with the Atlanta Hawks. Coming off the bench for the Hawks, Crawford poured in 18 PPG in 31 MPG and was awarded Sixth Man of the Year for his efforts. Following that year, Crawford had finally found his niche in the NBA, and that was as an offensive fire-starter off the bench, capable of swinging the tide of any game the moment he checked in.
Crawford’s career can be seen as a best case scenario for a player like Monta Ellis. Both players entered the league young (Crawford after one year at Michigan and Ellis straight from high school), both are much better on offense than defense, both played for the Warriors (teammates for most of the 2008-09 season), however, Crawford has become a trusted 13-year veteran that can help a championship-caliber team contend for a title and Ellis still is known only as a scorer.
At 6-5, with long, lanky arms, an ability to hit shots most players would never dream of taking, the way he heats up quicker than popcorn, and ballhandling skills that would earn him a spot in AND1 folklore, Crawford is one of the best offensive players in the league today. When Crawford is feeling it there are times where his team let’s him isolate his defender three or four straight possessions. And the embarrassments that follow live on forever thanks to YouTube.