The 2016-2017 New Orleans Pelicans season did not go as planned. Some Pelicans shined, while others fell short. After being traded four times in his first four years, journeyman Jordan Crawford traveled to the D-league, China and back again. Now he brings the scoring punch the Pelicans so desperately needed.
Jordan Crawford may have been the one seeking a second chance after three years away from the NBA. However, the New Orleans Pelicans were the ones that needed saving.
The Pelicans stumbled their way to a 2-6 start after the blockbuster DeMarcus Cousins trade. It had fans, players and general managers alike spinning.
Dell Demps was fighting to save his job by adding Boogie. While the big man brought hope for the future, the subtractions of players like Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway brought more losing to the present.
Enter journeyman Jordan Crawford.
After spending time with the Nets, Hawks, Wizards, Celtics, Warriors, and summers with the Mavericks and Bulls, Jordan spent three years bouncing between preseason basketball, China and the Developmental League.
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But on March 6th came Crawford’s second chance. The Pelicans acquired him from the Grand Rapids Drive on a ten day contract.
Crawford signed the deal, boarded a 5 a.m. flight from Atlanta, Georgia, landed at 2 p.m. and scored 19 points just six hours later.
“All he had was a duffle bag and some clothes,” Agent Darrell Comer said. “He scored 19 points on pure adrenaline.”
Jordan would solidify the Pelicans bench unit as well as his own future, by scoring double digits in 17 of his 19 games. Jordan averaged 14 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from three.
He even earned himself the nickname, “Instant Grits,” by way of DeMarcus Cousins.
The name brings a smile to Jordan, and he hopes it sticks:
“Aw man I like it, it was slick for him to say it off the brain like that, in terms of what it means and how I approach the game. It was all good and I think everybody enjoyed it.”
Jordan’s best game of the year came in the blasting of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Crawford scored 22 points in 21 minutes, on 68 percent shooting, including 57 percent from three.
Crawford also helped the Pelicans get a big win on the road against the Dallas Mavericks. Instant Grits hit a closely contested corner jumper over Seth Curry, to put the Pelicans ahead 121-116 with :43 seconds remaining, in a game they desperately needed.
"“All he had was a duffle bag and some clothes,” Agent Darrell Comer said. “He scored 19 points on pure adrenaline.”"
When I asked Jordan about his favorite memory as a Pelican, he responded:
“One of my favorite moments was the first game. How it happened, being in Utah, an arena that I like, and a place I had a lot of experience in. That had to be my favorite moment.”
“After all I had been through, being on this court, knowing that I could just play. I think that was one of my favorite moments, knowing how it was for everybody else that was close to me. I think they were even more excited than me.”
His dynamic scoring off the bench and floor spacing gave the Pelicans the relief they needed. The Pelicans went on a 8-3 run through the end of April and almost won a chance at the eighth seed in the West. That is, before crumbling to the Denver Nuggets 134-131.
And while Crawford is a well established scorer, his passing came as a welcome surprise.
Crawford specialized in spot up shooting and by drawing defenders in the paint with dribble penetration. He used that penetration to create open looks for Anthony Davis, who capitalized with highlight reel alley oops.
A former points guard in Boston and Washington, he averaged three assists per 1.3 turnovers, an elite level disparity.
But could this all have been a fluke? After all, who could have known that a career 31 percent shooter could be so effective? Who could have predicted Jordan would improve his efficiency after being away from the NBA for nearly three years?
Jordan Crawford has one year on the veteran’s contract left. There’s plenty of work on the table. Should he continue his high level of play, Jordan Crawford may earn high acclaim next season (Comeback POY, Most Improved POY), in addition to a handsome multi-year contract.