Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jae Crowder

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  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, senior forward from Marquette
  • Key Stats: 17.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists per game, 50 percent shooting, 35 percent 3-point shooting
  • Projected: Late first to second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

The thing I like best about Jae Crowder is pretty simple: when he runs into someone, it looks like it hurts a lot.

My favorite game of the NCAA tourney so far this year was the Marquette-Murray State matchup. It was one of the most physical basketball games I’ve seen in years. There was so much contact, officials had to just give up … they could’ve called multiple legit fouls on just about every play. Crowder was a big part of that effort, throwing himself all over the court and using his powerful upper body to slam his way to the basket.

Plus, as a NBA fan whose two favorite players all-time are Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace (both undersized rebounders), I love that Crowder, an undersized forward, is a good rebounder:

“I just think my father helped me gain that mentality to have a rebounding-type mentality. It’s all effort when it comes to rebounding, and if you have the effort, you’re going to grab a few rebounds. I just want to grab them in tough situations, and up to this point I’ve done that.”

Can never have enough rebounders, ya know? (Also, bonus, he’s another JUCO guy and, as I’ve mentioned, love JUCO guys)

Pros for the Pistons

Yes, Tayshaun Prince is signed for three more seasons after this one, and yes, Joe Dumars just might over-value Prince’s contributions a tad. Prince is undoubtedly a polarizing Piston. He drives some fans crazy with his ball-dominating ways and some fans will defend him like the GOLD MEDAL WINNING OLYMPIC HERO that he is. Anyway, whether you fit in the pro-Prince or anti-Prince camp, I think everyone would agree that the long-term answer as the team’s starting small forward isn’t on the roster yet.

Austin Daye is still young and the organization (or at least Dumars) still seems to believe in his upside. But he’s been a poor fit not just because of his inconsistency and shooting slump this season. He’s a finesse player who doesn’t defend all that well, which seems to be contrary to how the team is being rebuilt with Lawrence Frank as coach. So what’s the answer? Add a young small forward to the mix who is the opposite of a finesse player. Crowder, if he’s still on the board when the Pistons pick in the second round, fits that bill.

Offensively, Crowder can handle the ball, he’s strong around the basket and he has range out past the three-point line. Defensively, he’s a beast. He moves his feet well enough to defend perimeter players and he’s strong enough to bang with guys under the basket despite being at a height disadvantage.

He’s not as athletic as last year’s under the radar, superb rebounding undersized forward Kenneth Faried, but he’s active on the glass and would bring some needed bulk to the Pistons’ perimeter considering both Prince and Daye are about as scrawny as it gets among NBA small forwards.

Cons for the Pistons

The Pistons have a big financial commitment to Prince. It’s also likely that Daye will be back next year since his trade value doesn’t seem like a good bet to improve much over the rest of this season. Jonas Jerebko has the ability to play minutes at small forward and there’s still the matter of Kyle Singler, whose rights the Pistons hold.

None of those guys has done enough to prevent the Pistons from looking for upgrades at the position, but at the same time, they have three and maybe four guys if Singler decides to come back from Spain who would already be vying for minutes. Adding a fifth to the mix, even if Crowder might end up being better than at least a couple of those guys, might not be something the Pistons are interested in doing with other positions in greater need of depth.

Crowder is also another player (like Draymond Green) who doesn’t project nicely to a traditional position in the NBA, although Dumars hasn’t seemed to have a problem adding positionless players to his roster in recent years.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

  • Tough, physical player
  • Excellent motor
  • NBA body
  • Good rebounder
  • Solid perimeter game
  • Versatile defender


Crowder’s basketball IQ is further exemplified in his assist-to-turnover ratio, which is better than many of the point guards in our top-100 rankings. Smart, poised, mature and always under control, he’s the type of player who knows his role perfectly and understands how to maximize his time on the floor, which is likely a major factor in his team’s success this season.

College Hoops Journal:

Jae Crowder defies a lot of conventions. He’s listed as a 6-6 forward, but he’s taken the second most 3s on Marquette. In one possession on defense you’ll see him hedging up top on the perimeter and then grabbing the defensive board down low. He’s a junior college recruit, but he’s beloved by his coach and one of two emotional rocks on a team that just had a heck of a week  — winning in Madison, Wisconsin and defeating Washington on a last-second shot at Madison Square Garden.

“That’s my guy,” said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams after the game at MSG. “I’ll roll with that cat no matter where he goes.”

USA Today:

On defense, he can guard anyone from a point guard to a post player.

“I think that helps our guards out a lot knowing they can pass their man to a guy like me for the rest of that possession,” Crowder says.


Crowder didn’t even get serious about basketball until the end of his high school career in Villa Rica, Ga. He preferred football, in which he played quarterback. That is, until he broke his hand late in his senior season on a running play, and when he realized he wasn’t going to play Division I in that sport. Besides, he had hit a growth spurt that took him up to 6-foot-4, helping his body better carry his weight. And basketball was in his genes, as his father, Corey, had played in the NBA and professionally overseas.

So Crowder got focused and started his college career at South Georgia Tech. To his horror, he later found out the junior college wasn’t accredited, meaning none of his coursework would transfer to another school. He had no choice but to go to yet another two-year school, this time heading to Howard College in Texas. He spent the summer holed up in his dorm room, taking courses online to make up for lost time and not knowing a soul in town.

What is the best thing Jae Crowder does for his team?

Pardeep Toor (follow him on Twitter) is a former sports writer for who once trolled Braylon Edwards:

How do you project the potential of a player who improves every single facet of his game from his junior to senior season? Crowder emerged as the most efficient player on a team with three trigger happy guards reluctant to give up the ball and possessing a green light to shoot at all times. Crowder’s value at the next level is rooted in matrix-esque 1.7 threes/2.5 steals/1.0 blocks and uncanny ability to switch onto any offensive player in the pick-and-roll (Dennis Rodman style? Crowder has the same JUCO pedigree). The fascination with “potential” and “super freshmen” will undermine Crowder’s draft status as draft heads and general managers tend to think playing more basketball at an extremely high level while showing progressive improvement is somehow a deterrent. I would much rather take a proven and passionate player in Crowder rather than wait for Jared Sullinger types to reach an undefined apex. Go with what you know.