Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scouting Report: Allen Crabbe

Allen Crabbe always been a shooter dating back to his high school days. Throughout the years, Crabbe has slowly but surely became a more complete player to the point where he is now one of the most well-rounded offensive players in this years draft.

Crabbe showed his improved all-around offensive game more and more as the season went along. When Pac-12 defenses tried to chase him off the 3-pt line, he finally had an answer this season. He ended up shooting only 33.6% from deep in conference play but still scored over 17 points per game. Between being asked to play 35 minutes per game in conference play and all the attention he received, Crabbe may have not had his legs under him for his jumpers. That didn't stop him and his team from getting hot at the end of the season to advance to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. He found other ways to score and get his teammates involved.

The Golden Bears took after their star player and won games based on their offensive play, not their defense. Even though Mike Montgomery was at the helm, he struggled to get his team to play effective defense and Cal ended up having to play a lot of zone. Getting Crabbe to buy in on the defensive end as always been a question mark and given that respected former NBA coach Mike Montgomery couldn't get him to buy in 100%, it still remains one of his biggest question marks.

Crabbe is certainly an offensive minded player and he sees his scoring being the biggest asset he can bring to a team. There are concerns with his mental toughness. He shows bad body language on the court at times, avoids physical play, and gets noticeably frustrated when things don't go his way. This was evident all season long - up until the last game of the season where Crabbe made some mental errors and proceeded to take it out on the referees. There is also the shoving incident that occurred when he and Coach Montgomery got into an argument on the sideline. Another concern may be the laidback vibe he gives off - the Cali vibe. Scouts will wonder just how much he is willing to compete.

These are the red flags with Crabbe. He may never reach his potential defensively and it will be interesting how he handles the inevitable struggles in the NBA.

However, there are plenty of things to like about Crabbe to get teams considering taking him as high as the late lottery.

His offensive game is excellent and he continues to show improvement each year. This shows that Crabbe is indeed willing to work and he does seem to have a chip on his shoulder to prove doubters wrong.

He started as just a shooter and that remains his biggest strength and what his game centers around. Even though he struggled to shoot the ball in conference play, his shooting at the next level is of little concern. He gets his feet set extremely quick, has unlimited range, and is able to get room for his shot. He's a dynamic shooter who can stay hot for an entire game.

With all the attention he has drawn for his shooting, Crabbe has been able to work on the rest of his game. Even though he slumped a bit shooting towards the end of the year, his confidence in the rest of his game seemed to be at an all time high. He was fine with teams playing him hard at the 3-pt line and took what they would give him. He didn't hesitate to drive the lane.

As a driver, Crabbe isn't a guy that will cross you up and drive past you all the way to the rim in an isolation situation. Much of his game revolves around screens and he uses them very well. He glides around screens with long strides and moves without the ball nonstop. At Cal, they ran a lot of down screens for him which he used effectively to score in the mid-range area. He curled around those screens near the baseline heading towards the foul line and showed off great touch with his floater.

He is very sleek and quick in these situations and the floater is deadly. He can hit the floater with either hand and off one or two feet. He can also stop and pop for a short mid-range jumper. He had a large amount of his offensive come in this area - 43% according to hoop-math.com - and hit a very good 45% of his shots in this area. His mid-range game is something to take note of.

Back to Crabbe as a driver. As I said, he's not the kind of guy who will break you down off the dribble. He does, however, use hesitations and ball fakes well. He also has a quick, long first step and is able to rip through the defender. More often though, Crabbe has a running start coming off an off ball screen when he receives the ball and can turn the corner into the lane that way.

Crabbe prefers to avoid physical contact inside and thats why he often passes the ball or chooses to attempt a floater in the lane. He also isn't super explosive off of one foot or strong with the ball at the rim. He needs to do a better job at staying more compact if he wants to step up his game at the rim in the NBA.

Due to his lack of finishing at the rim though, Crabbe has become an excellent passer. Instead of trying to finish for himself, he does a great job at finding teammates with wrap around passes around the rim or with other types of passes. He's a creative passer and gets a lot of zip on the ball. He seems the court well and does a nice job keeping his head up.

He's especially dangerous coming off of screens because he can handle the ball well with either hand. He isn't ultra crafty with the ball but with his first step and mid-range game, he generally just needs two dribbles to get to his spot on the floor. He is also able to handle it in the open court with either hand and does a nice job pushing the ball after a rebound. He has great top end speed and loves to get out and run.

Crabbe started the break a good amount at Cal because he was a great rebounder for a shooting guard. Crabbe is a lot better jumping off of two feet than one and could be one of the best rebounding 2 guards in the league. He would have gotten even more boards at Cal if he was willing to battle inside and get physical, but he generally relied on strictly his athleticism on the glass - which is very impressive.

Crabbe also has a great frame with wide shoulders that he has slowly began to fill out. You can notice the changes in his body from the beginning of the year up until he was last seen at the Chicago combine. He has the kind of frame that can put on weight, although its very questionable if he will ever use his frame the way he should. Crabbe also has outstanding length with a wingspan at 6'11.5. Those arms should allow him to continue to have a very effective floater game in the NBA and also be a very good defender if he ever chose to dial it in.

Even though I'm not counting on him to ever reach his defensive potential, I still see Crabbe as arguably the best shooting guard prospect after Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore. The race is between him and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and while Caldwell-Pope may have more potential, Crabbe is the better player right now. Both are two of the most talented scorers in the draft, but Crabbe is so much better when it comes to moving without the basketball. Crabbe also has a better overall skillset.

Still, the questions remain about his mental game and could prevent him from being the third shooting guard off the board. He reminds me some of Klay Thompson, who also had red flags because of his laidback attitude and a marijuana charge. They both are great shooters with a very good feel for the game who improved their ball skills before entering the draft. Klay might have the edge as a shooter and in terms of creating his own shot, but Crabbe appears to have the edge in terms of his physical profile. I'd also argue that Crabbe is a better ball handler than Klay when he left Washington State.

It will be interesting to see where Allen Crabbe ends up on draft night because he is one of those guys who could end up sneaking into the lottery or find himself slipping near the second round. In this draft, I think it will be a mistake to let him slip past 20. 

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