Deciphering Crawford's cryptic stat-based tweet

Deciphering Crawford's cryptic stat-based tweet
February 17, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Deciphering tweets from athletes can occasionally be tricky especially for those lacking a Ph.d in hip lingo. Or those that use a term like hip lingo.

Even though at first glance Jordan Crawford's tweet from Sunday afternoon appears in code, only a little detective work is required. As for the message the recently benched guard is conveying, that is another story.

Look up Crawford's statistics for December: In 13 games, he averaged 19.1 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds (and 36 minutes). If we assume that the former Xavier product was simply being overly generous with the scoring round-up, seems like have winner.

Why the third-year guard chose this moment to remind of his December stats is unclear, but perhaps, not really. Even casual Wizard observers could venture a guess.

Crawford's minutes have dropped over the last few weeks - and recently been eliminated altogether. The volume shooter - and one the Wizards' leading scorers on the season - did not play in Washington's last three games entering the All-Star break and just 11 minutes combined over his last five outings. In February, Crawford is averaging 4.3 points, 0.3 assists and 1.0 rebound.

Over the weekend CSN's NBA Insider Ric Bucher took a stab at gauging Crawford's status on the trade market, dubbing the high-scorer as "eminently available". The NBA trading deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.

On the season, Crawford is tied for second in scoring with fellow off-guard Bradley Beal, averaging 13.2 points.

Crawford's decrease in minutes coincided with Washington's best stretch of the season. Starting on Jan. 7 against Oklahoma City, he sat out four consecutive games with a sore ankle. Since he return on Jan 18, Crawford has not played more than 24 minutes and over 20 only once in the last seven games he's played.

Since Jan. 7, the Wizards are 11-8. During that stretch and in games where Crawford played six minutes or less if at all, Washington's record is 7-2.

Back in October the Wizards retained the rights to Crawford -- along with John Wall and four others -- through the 2013-14 season. Crawford, Wall, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin are eligible for contract extensions or they become restricted free agents in the summer of 2014.

With his roster essentially at full strength, Wizards coach Randy Wittman has had more options in recent weeks compared to the first two months of the season. With there not being enough minutes to spread around, certain players have found their on-court time curtailed in stretches, including Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Booker and Crawford.

In the case of three forwards, the issue primarily comes down to a crowded frontcourt. Also, while not carbon copies, Singleton, Booker and Vesely all offer defense and energy with limited offense. In the case of Crawford, who sat even while Beal missed time with a wrist injury, the apparent demotion is seemingly more about his fit with Wittman's desired schemes.

Though he can produce points in bunches much to the delight of the fan base and is averaging a career-high 3.7 assists, Crawford also frustrates by searching long and hard for his next scoring opportunity. The primary casualty, ball movement.

This from Bucher's report about Crawford:

"I can't tell you how many scouts and other basketball heads grind their teeth watching him play, in large degree because of a perceived selfish streak."

Defense is also not considered one of the 24-year-old's strengths. While Garrett Temple lags behind Crawford as a scorer, he contributes in these other areas, which explains why he filled in as starter over Crawford with Beal sidelined.

The yin and yang of Crawford's game is perhaps best summed up in this Wittman quote following a 100-95 overtime loss to Atlanta on Dec. 18 after the guard posted a triple-double. "Jordan's going to always keep fighting," the coach said. "He might not always take the best shots. I might scratch my head and look to the ceiling sometimes, but I do know he's going to compete. That's who he is."

The "that's who he is" line cuts both ways. When John Wall, Nene and others missed games, Wittman had few choices but to let Crawford be Crawford. Now, not so much.

In a perfect world, the always confident Crawford enters games off the bench when a sagging offense needs a boost. Between this recent tweet, the recent benching and the recent league buzz, now we wonder if there could be a trade to another team's bench.

Whether he knows the answer or not, Crawford's not so cryptic message did not provide this one crucial bit of data.