At first glance, the Toney Douglas for Jordan Crawford swap seems like a puzzling move by the Warriors. The Dubs are adding a low percentage volume shooter to a team with marksman all over the floor. Having Jordan Crawford take shots away from Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and David Lee will actively make the Warriors worse on offense, and Crawford has a reputation as an undisciplined, below average defender. So why have I come around to really liking this deal?
The Warriors bench unit has been abysmal most of the season. Harrison Barnes was expected to be a super-sixth man and handle the shot creating duties for that group, but he’s been a mild disappointment, and possessions that end in Barnes having to make a play generally result in turnovers or low efficiency long twos. Toney Douglas, while an active defender (albeit one who fouls too much) and decent spot up shooter, doesn’t really fit with what the Warriors need from their backup point guard. Douglas doesn’t have the athleticism to finish at the rim, and his confidence driving the ball has been waning as he frequently gets rejected inside. Defenders can stay glued to our perimeter bench guys when Douglas drives, so he doesn’t create open shots for anybody (he’s averaging a hideous .8 assists per game, which even in limited minutes is unacceptable), and no one else on the bench unit can get a shot for themselves.
Enter Jordan Crawford. (Bonus points for looking like he just took a gigantic bong rip before taking his official team photo)
It’s much easier to be optimistic about this trade if you think of Crawford taking shots from Marresse Speights and Draymond Green instead of Steph Curry and David Lee. Crawford will be the primary scorer on a bench unit that was crying out for one. Sure, his three point percentage is worrisome (31%) but there’s reason to believe that percentage will go up as he plays mostly against other teams’ bench guys. He’s also incredibly streaky, and is capable of getting hot and carrying the offense for a few minutes at a time. Mark Jackson gives his players a permanent green light, which can be problematic with a player like Crawford, who can take some ill-advised, low percentage looks. But honestly, most of the Warriors bench possessions now result in ill-advised, low percentage looks, and I’d rather have Crawford take some wild shots than watch the parade of Mo Speights 20 foot bricks our bench unit has produced to this point.
Crawford also brings something to the team that only right now only Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and David Lee bring; he can make free throws! He’s a career 82% free throw shooter, and is shooting even better this year, at 87%. He gets there a respectable amount for the minutes he plays (3.2 attempts per game in 30 minutes, for comparison, Klay Thompson shoots 2.5 free throws in 37 minutes a game). He gives the Warriors someone besides Steph and Klay they can feel comfortable in-bounding the ball to with a lead late in games, and the players he’d likely replace in that situation, Barnes, Green, or Igoudala, are either below average free throwers (Barnes) or shockingly awful (Green, Iggy).
There’s also very little risk in this move. The drop off from Douglas to Kent Bazemore isn’t that extreme, and I really don’t see the Warriors regretting giving up on Toney Douglas. He seems like a nice, hard-working guy, but his skills just don’t match with what the Warriors needed. It will be interesting how Mark Jackson integrates Crawford into a lineup that already needs tweaking. Regardless, the bench unit was broken offensively, and this is at least an attempt to fix it with very little risk.