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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jae Crowder

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag


  • 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 MLive.com 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.



  • Mar 23, 201211:23 am
    by Danny D


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

    Best line I have ever read.

  • Mar 23, 201211:32 am
    by RationalSportsFan


    I like Crowder (in the 2nd round), but Toor’s comments at the end are just silly.  The simple fact is that the vast majority of the best players in the world show their awesomeness at a young age.  You can have your Crowders.  I will take the Sullingers.  And I will beat you 9 times out of 10.
    There’s a reason the top 15 players in the NBA last year (all-NBA teams) played a combined 14 years in college.

    • Mar 23, 201211:44 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I am selling hard on Sullinger.

      • Mar 23, 201211:47 am
        by RationalSportsFan


        Fair enough, but there’s a big difference between selling hard on Sully and saying you’d rather have Crowder.  Would you go that far?

        • Mar 23, 201211:49 am
          by Patrick Hayes


          Would I take Crowder in the lottery? No. Do I think Crowder has a pretty good shot at having a better NBA career? Yes.

  • Mar 23, 201212:05 pm
    by JT's Hoops Blog


    I’m sure if the took that rastafari mop off his head, he would be EVEN more dangerous as much of that weight from his hair would be gone.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anybody who has or has had dreadlocks.  Those things weigh u down big time–like an extra 10 or 15 pounds.  It’s true.

    • Mar 23, 201212:42 pm
      by vic


      maybe that’s why those guys like Faried & Crowder are so beastly and strong. they play with weights on the whole time.

  • Mar 23, 201212:40 pm
    by frankie d


    crowder would upgrade the pistons’ SF position dramatically as he’d give them a physical presence there hat would allow them to match up with the power SFs like lebron.
    he’ll probably go late first or later, but in 5 years when they do revised draft, people will say he should have been taken in the lottery.  
    he has all of the skills and talents to become a very good 10 year nba player, the only thing he doesn’t have is the eye-popping athleticism that makes GMs go wobbly in the knees.
    i like sullinger, but when he goes up against top-knotch opponents, he looks less impressive, even though he might still get his numbers.  he’ll have to fight and struggle to get his points and boards.
    on the other hand, when crowder goes up against top-knotch competition, he looks even more impressive.  the gap between him and the elite athletes doesn’t seem so great.
    it would be a hard choice if draymond green and crowder were there and i needed to choose between the two….

  • Mar 23, 201212:49 pm
    by vic


    I absolutely love Jae Crowder. 
    he’s my first pick for 2nd round small forward. Yes, even over Draymond Green and Royce White. I like his football player style and energy, and he seems like more of a wing-stopper and defender. Plus he can shoot the 3. We really don’t need another ball handler at the 3 as much as we need a stopper.

    In other news, Giorgu Deng moved into contention for my 3rd round pick, in case we go small (Tony Mitchell, Jared Sullinger, TRobinson) in round 1. Anytime you can self-neutralize an offense with 7 blocks, (like he did against MSU last night) that’s a pretty intense player.

    1st pick: Drummond/Henson/TonyMitchell/Sullinger/Moultrie
    2nd Pick: Melo/Ezeli/Machado
    3rd pick: Jae/Draymond/Royce/Deng

    • Mar 23, 20122:53 pm
      by oats


      First of all, Royce White is supposed to weigh like 270 pounds. There is a reason he defends centers, he is huge. He’s almost certainly not playing SF on the next level. Secondly, I don’t get why everyone thinks White is going in this draft and probably slipping to the second round. He can go back to school and separate himself from his past legal issues a bit. If he does that, and maybe adds some polish to his game he will likely be a first round pick next year. This assumption people have that he will go just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • Mar 23, 20123:33 pm
    by oats


    Ah, I missed that. I guess his stock is up a bit after the tourney. I see DraftExpress now has him going 19. He might be a lottery talent that almost certainly slips a bit due to his off court issues. It seems like someone with a mid-late first round pick should pick him up since he represents a chance to steal that kind of talent in that part of the draft, but I thought that of DaJuan Blair too. If Detroit passes on him in the second I’d be almost as upset as I was when Summers was picked.

    • Mar 23, 20124:07 pm
      by oats


      I thought I hit reply to what Hayes just said. That was about White, if that wasn’t clear.

    • Mar 23, 20125:30 pm
      by tarsier


      As consolation, I have convinced myself that since the Spurs are the Spurs, if Detroit had taken Blair, San Antonio would’ve grabbed Jerebko at 37, and then the  Pistons would’ve been stuck with Summers at 39.

  • Mar 23, 20123:49 pm
    by oats


    I really like Crowder as a player. Crowder might actually be better off playing as an undersized power forward. I know it doesn’t seem likely, but I didn’t think it was likely that Chuck Hayes could play center. I wouldn’t want to do it for long, but I would rather go play small ball with Crowder at the 4 than Prince. Another thing I like about Crowder is how well he runs the court, something the Pistons should be looking for to pair with their up tempo guards. Crowder and Jerebko seem to do a lot of the same stuff though, so maybe the team would shy away from him for that reason. Personally I would like to see them playing at the same time and just driving other teams crazy, but a lot of people don’t like playing two hustle guys at the same time.

    • Mar 23, 20124:40 pm
      by Chris H


      I don’t have a problem with Detroit fielding guys that hustle, they could have a full team of them, as long as those same guys can do more than run around.  Crowder can obviously shoot, something that usually translates well to the NBA.  Now I’m not saying I’d pick him over a big guys like Ezeli and Melo, but if he is there and they aren’t well, I’d take that chance.  That being said I don’t know if he’d be available, as a small forward he would present a definite strength advantage and I could even see him guarding someone like Chuck Hayes down low.  Being able to switch like that on defense is a definite advantage.  If D’Antoni was coaching I could see him picking up a guy like that in a second.

  • Mar 23, 20124:33 pm
    by DG


    I think the thing I like most about this year’s draft is that it looks like the Pistons will pick up two or perhaps three players to help them.  About a month ago I was thinking that a draft of Anthony Davis and Fab Melo would be perfect.  Lately I’ve been thinking Harrison Barnes and Fab Melo would be awesome.  I’m far less certain Melo will be around when they draft in the second round.  Crowder looks like a great second option…has me thinking Andre Drummond and Jae Crowder.  And I’m not a Drummond or PJ III fan.  But on upside I’d love to see the Pistons do better than Drummond and Crowder.  As a huge Prince fan, he’s gotta go for the stones to get better. 

    I really like the Knight-Stuckey-Monroe base they’ve composed so far.  Daye’s a head case, but talented.  Jerebko’s good off the bench.

    Otherwise I think the Stones have nailed the best player available aspect of the draft.  Seems like they’re going for the high basketball IQ type lately.  Monroe was a steal.  I like Knight, too.  He’ll get better fast.  He’s smart.  And he seems to be meshing with Stuckey–HUGE for both.

    Plus Melo round II seems almost perfect for the Pistons.  BTW Carmelo is hugely overated.  He can score,t anything else…just ask the knicks.

    • Mar 23, 20125:36 pm
      by tarsier


      I agree that Carmelo is overrated,albeit a lot less since going to NY, since he hasn’t helped out much there. But it is blatantly false to say all he can do is score. Anthony is one of the best rebounding SFs in the game.

  • Mar 23, 20127:29 pm
    by sop


    1. Anthony Davis
    2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    3. Bradley Beal
    4. Andre Drummond
    5. Harrison Barnes
    6. Thomas Robinson
    7. Jared Sullinger
    8. Perry Jones III
    9. Cody Zeller
    10. James McAdoo
    11. Tyler Zeller
    12. Terrence Jones
    13. Jeremy Lamb
    14. John Henson
    15. Quincy Miller
    16. Meyers Leonard
    17. Terrence Ross
    18. Damian Lillard
    19. Kendal Marshall
    20. Tony Wroten Jr.
    21. Dion Waiters
    22. Austin Rivers
    23. Patric Young
    24. Marquis Teague
    25. Deshaun Thomas
    26. Jeffery Taylor
    27. Mason Plumlee
    28. Doron Lamb
    29. John Jenkins
    30. Tyshaun Taylor
    31. Arnett Moultrie
    32. C.J. Leslie
    33. Jarnell Stokes
    34. Draymond Green
    35. Doug McDermott
    36. Andrew Nicholson
    37. Kevin Jones
    38. Myck Kabongo
    39. Fab Melo
    40. Scott Machado
    41. Royce White
    42. Tony Mitchell
    43. Trey Burke
    44. Will Barton
    45. Jae Crowder
    46. Darius Johnson-Odom
    47. Marcus Denmon
    48. Jordan Taylor
    49. Moe Harkless
    50. Orlando Johnson
    51. Kris Joseph
    52. Isaiah Canaan
    53. Festus Ezeli
    54. Mike Moser
    55. Kenny Boynton
    56. Jamychal Green
    57. Mouphtaou Yarou
    58. William Buford
    59. Tim Haradaway Jr.
    60. Andre Robeson

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