Quite possibly the greatest sixth man to ever grace the basketball court is Jamal Crawford. With nearly 20,000 points to his name over an illustrious 19-year career, Crawford has proven his viability as a consistent threat off the bench. He has helped redefine the importance of a sixth man and helped mold it into the position it is today.
The NBA is a star driven league, however the majority of championship contenders only get as far as they do because of complete rosters, which includes a strong bench. Just last season, the Toronto Raptors were able to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the Finals because of one key advantage that they held over the Warriors, depth. Players like Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka were driving forces in keeping the Raptors in the game when their starters were resting.
On the contrary, the Golden State Warriors had a very depleted roster after stacking the team with five All-Stars that ate up the majority of the team’s payroll, therefore after injuries riddled the frontline players, the Warriors had very little support to fall back on.
Time and time again, history shows the necessity in having a strong second unit. With every formidable bench, there needs to be a player to lead that can play alongside the starters as well as carry his own weight without them on the floor, and that person was always Jamal Crawford.
Every team Crawford has been a part of, he has been the go-to guy off the bench. He has played for eight different organizations and was an effective player for everyone. His play style allowed him to age like fine wine, as Crawford played just as smooth and skillful at the age of 35 as he did at age 25. Consistency is what allowed him to stay relevant for so many years.
He has kept himself in phenomenal shape ever since he was drafted in 2000, and this helped him keep up with the modern NBA. Crawford is a perimeter shooter with fantastic handles, which are all tools that play well in almost any era.
Up until this past season, Crawford has been able to find teams to play with, however despite playing well in 2019 with the Phoenix Suns, he remained an unsigned free agent. The most likely reason for Crawford’s inability to get signed is solely his age.
The league has been getting progressively younger over the past decade and even though Crawford was able to pull off a Houdini last season by putting up an astonishing 51-point performance against the Dallas Mavericks to become the oldest player ever to score that much in a game, teams still will not budge.
He does not believe that his career is over, but with the current state of everything being extremely hepatic and disoriented, his hopes may end in vain. Whenever Crawford chooses to retire, whether that be this year or in a few, his current Hall of Fame status will most likely remain the same.
Crawford definitely has accomplished many extraordinary achievements over his basketball career, however, are his accolades enough to get him into Springfield? Looking over his career resume, the only major award he has won is the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Though, he has won this award three times (2010, 2014, 2016), which only emphasizes the consistency he brings to the game.
One major knock to his ledger is that he has never been named an All-Star. When the committee for the Hall of Fame votes for their candidates, these lack of accomplishments come into play. The majority of players in the Hall of Fame have been multiple time All-Stars and All-NBA players, yet Crawford has never been either. He has many great statistical achievements including numerous records broken as a sixth man.
However, these impressive feats may be to the detriment of Crawford as they are mostly comparing him to bench players. For instance, he holds numerous scoring records that are in relation to him being a sixth man, and even though he excelled at his role, his status would be challenged by opposing players with All-Star numbers.
For the role that Crawford played for his teams, he was great, but when comparing him to potential Hall of Fame talent, it is difficult to see where he lies.
All the drawbacks that may hold Crawford back can also move him up. The impact he made on the game of basketball is immeasurable. Along with his lasting legacy as a sixth man, he still qualifies for the Hall of Fame in other categories. If his career ended where it stands now, he would be ranked 58th all-time in scoring.
It does not sound too impressive, but considering some of the players ahead of him such as Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, and even Scottie Pippen, who are all Hall of Famers, it adds some more value to his numbers. There are many Hall of Famers such as McGrady and Hill that sustained higher highs then Jamal Crawford, but lacked the longevity.
Realistically, an entire career should be considered when voters make these decisions. Is five great years really that much better than fifteen really good years?
Health and consistency can often be overlooked in this process and those two key factors should really be more influential. They are underappreciated aspects because they are not hard statistics or awards to help support a player’s value.
There have been many undeserving players to make it, while there have also been many that have snubbed. Unfortunately for Crawford, he may end up on the latter side of the spectrum.
Past candidates for the Hall of Fame like Shawn Marion, Tim Hardaway, and Ben Wallace have all been left out to dry. These are all players that are comparable to Crawford because of their career trajectories. All of these players were fairly consistent throughout their NBA tenures averaging around or just under 20 ppg except for Ben Wallace who was more of a defensive force.
None of these players were ever stars, but always major contributors in their team’s success. They were all quality players who never shined too bright, but lasted long. Crawford probably falls into this same category and because the league does not generally reward this kind of player, he may end up on the outside looking in for the Hall of Fame.
He will always be remembered for his lethal crossovers and buzzer beating three pointers, but making it into this prestigious class can cement a legacy. There is always a chance, never say never, but the odds are stacked against Jamal Crawford making the Hall of Fame.
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