With a month-long sample size under his belt this season, it’s time to talk about swingman Allen Crabbe’s atrocious cold spell.
Despite all the upstart success from many individual Brooklyn Nets players, not everyone is rising from the ashes. Allegedly good shooter Allen Crabbe is nowhere to be found, seemingly not capable of doing anything that contributes to winning basketball.
Hailed as a catch-and-shoot expert when acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017, Crabbe was supposed to provide breathing room for a team that was previously suffocating. He did a solid but uninspiring job in his first season with the Nets, knocking down 37.8 percent of his 3-pointers in 2017-18.
This season has been…a little rougher.
Not only can Crabbe not connect from downtown (28.2 percent), but all his shooting percentages are off, as he’s shooting 25.7 percent overall. Obviously he won’t continue to shoot blindfolded, but whatever is going on had better end soon.
The main problem with Crabbe is that his shooting is the only thing keeping him on the court. His other attributes, such as capable playmaking and defending, have not shown up this year. So the fact that he’s not shooting makes him a complete liability on the court.
Throw in Joe Harris‘s scorching start from 3-point land this season, and Crabbe’s time in the rotation might be ticking. His Box Plus-Minus, a statistic that values one’s contributions per 100 possessions relative to the rest of the league, is currently -7.0. That’s the third-lowest for players with over 150 minutes, behind only Eric Gordon and Josh Jackson.
Gordon might be evidence of a light at the end of the tunnel though, as he himself is in a cold streak (23.5 percent on 3s). Both are proven shooters, and should be able to break their respective slumps soon.
Additionally, let’s not forget why people yearn for so much production from Crabbe to begin with. His contract, the only one on the team’s books past 2019 (player option for $18.5 million next summer), is certainly egregious, but if Crabbe were making what, say, Harris makes, it would be easier for fans to be patient.
The Blazers got rid of his contract for good reason; Brooklyn made their salary cap life a living hell to retain him in restricted free agency, but everyone knew he was grossly overpaid from the moment he signed the offer sheet.
Don’t get me wrong: This cold spell is still unacceptable, especially with how well Caris LeVert was breaking down defenses before his injury. But rash decisions are not what this team needs right now. Even if he’s currently contributing negatively, it’s not like the Nets just traded for Jimmy Butler and have to 150 percent win now. It’s only sensible to let him shoot through this lull, because his potential upside as a sniper could make the bench unit palatable.
It’s also imperative to consider what Crabbe came from. Last season, he was a regular starter with the creative license to chuck 3-pointers at will (7.1 per game). Now that the team has depth and rhythm to its offense, Crabbe’s touches have significantly dipped.
Getting used to reduced roles can be tough for players like him. Even Klay Thompson had an early-season cold spell once; in Kevin Durant‘s first seven games with the Golden State Warriors, Thompson went 11-for-53 from downtown, shooting merely 20.8 percent.
Fourteen games is a lot more than seven, but there is plenty of time for Crabbe to turn it around. Quite frankly, there isn’t really another option to fill his role either with Treveon Graham sidelined. Riding out the storm is really the only way to go, and eventually Crabbe will work his way out of it.