One way or another, Allen Crabbe is about to be $75 million richer.
The Brooklyn Nets have signed the relatively unknown Crabbe to an offer sheet, giving Crabbe’s Portland Trail Blazer squad 72 hours to match the Nets bid, and there have been all kinds of speculation as to why the Nets are taking such a gamble.
Is someone who averaged 10.3 points in 26.0 minutes per game worth such a princely sum? In this market, you can’t really tell. But there are indicators.
"I like it. The money aside, he’s a young guy that’s up-and-coming," veteran scout Scott McGuire told the Post's Brian Lewis. "They’re catching him at the right time. The next year or two should be his prime. I kind of like it. If you’d told me two years ago, I wouldn’t, but give the kid the credit."
First, let’s take a look at some of the other similarly questionable contracts doled out this summer and see how Crabbe stacks up.
--SG Evan Fournier (5 years, $85 million to Orlando Magic): 15.4 points, 46.2% FG, 40% 3PT, 83.6% FT in 32.5 minutes per game. Averaged 17.0 points and 3.0 assists per 36 minutes.
--SF Evan Turner (4 years, $70 million to Portland Trail Blazers): 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 45.6% FG, 24.1% from 3PT, 82.7% FT in 28.0 minutes per game. Averaged 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists per 36 minutes.
--SF Kent Bazemore (4 years, $72 million to Atlanta Hawks): 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 44.1% FG, 35.7% 3PT, 81.5% FT in 27.8 minutes per game. Averaged 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.
While posting 10.3 points per contest, Crabbe shot 45.9% FG, 39.3% 3PT, and 86.7% FT. Per 36, the Los Angeles native averaged 14.2 points per 36 minutes. Last season, he was (barely) the Trail Blazers third leading scorer behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who combined for over 45 points per game.
Judging by the market, Crabbe’s contract falls right in line with players of similar regard to this point. However among all of them, Crabbe is due to make the most on averaged ($18.75 million per year without bonuses), and he’s also only 24 and entering his prime.
For scorecard purposes, Bazemore is 27, Fournier will be 24 in October, and Turner will be 28 in October.
We can nitpick at how Crabbe has never proven himself beforehand to earn this type of phat contract, and if you’re the Nets, you’re swinging for the fences. But if you’re the Nets, you’re gambling on a 24 year-old who can fill it up from three, and has proven himself as an effective perimeter defender. Those are two of the most critical attributes to have on your squad. It's where the NBA is headed: jump shooting and the ability to guard wing players.
If Crabbe could be coached up to his fullest potential, then elevating his three-point shooting and perimeter defense is his and the Nets’ best bet.
Also, if Crabbe is going to live up to his potential, then being on a roster as wide open and as young as the Nets is ideal. Brook Lopez is option one, but as an old-school big, and with the Nets coaching staff bringing a collective history of offensive creativity, that could change to favor the backcourt players.
Beyond the numbers, here’s what Crabbe looks like in game action.
In his most recent showing: round two of the Western Conference semis, Game five against the Golden State Warriors. Crabbe displayed the biggest reason why he drew the interest he has in free agency. He proved himself a big game player.
Here are some things worth noting that when watching game film, you’ll see for yourself:
1. Transition three’s: Crabbe shoots nearly 40% from deep for his career. He’s not a good shooter; he’s a very good shooter. Once his squad gets the defensive board, he’s off in transition and knows exactly where to go; a wing, a corner, or trail the play for the open three. He has an offensive knack for being in the right place at the right time, and understands where he should be on the floor.
2. Spot-up three’s: He was 112-for-285 from three last season while coming off the bench. As a starter without two great ball dominating guards like Lillard and McCollum, expect this number to potentially sky rocket.
Some say that the NBA season truly begins on Christmas, and if that’s the case then Crabbe poured in a career-high 26 points on day two of the regular season, which happened to be against the eventual NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
1. We see more of the same from Crabbe, which reassures the Cal alum and blossoming talent as a surefire three-point threat. Consistency is key, and over his career, especially in his breakout campaign in 2015-16, Crabbe has demonstrated such from beyond the arc.
2. You also get a feel for his ability to penetrate the defense and finish inside or at the mid-range area. For this level of three-point shooter, his pump fake would only get better if he’s hitting perimeter shots. This should only open things up for the Nets offense.
As previously alluded to, Crabbe has a reputation as a quality defensive player, and we get a couple more glimpses of this in an early season match-up against Detroit.
1. At 6’6, 210 pounds, Crabbe has the prototypical size for a two-guard, with a frame that could match-up to any guard and plenty of small forwards in this league. In the very beginning of the video he expertly defends 6’8, 245 pound Stanley Johnson in the post, even blocking his shot. Will he do this to every two or three in the league? Not necessarily. But he’s a willing defender and can provide a bothersome time for post-up offensive twos and threes.
2. Later on we see Crabbe demonstrate some help defense, which was also showed in the Golden State clip. It’s a small sample size, sure, but good defense isn’t always shown in numbers. Crabbe, while in Portland, developed the reputation of being a two-way player, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have struck gold with his first non-rookie wage scale contract.
Also very important and worth noting is Crabbe’s level of improvement over the years, which has been something of a trend over his basketball livelihood.
Going back to his college days with the California Golden Bears, the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year entered as a highly coveted freshman who won Mr. Basketball in the State of California in 2010.
He earned Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year honors before earning Pac-12 All-First Team in his next two seasons before entering the draft as a junior. His points per game averages spiked from 13.4 as a freshman to 15.2 and 18.4 the following two seasons, with his minutes per game going from 33.8 to 34.1 and increasing to 36.2 as a junior.
Per 40 minutes, Crabbe went from scoring 15.8 per to 17.8 before capping off his Cal career at 20.3 in his final season.
After being selected as the first pick in the second round of the 2013 draft, Crabbe was largely up and down between the Blazers and the D-League and only saw 6.7 minutes worth of action in 15 games played, where he posted a measly 2.2 points, good for 11.9 per 36 minutes.
In his second season, Crabbe played 51 games, starting nine. In 13.4 minutes per game, he struggled and netted 3.3 points, or 8.9 per 36 minutes.
This past season, as mentioned earlier, Crabbe popped for much better numbers across the board and took advantage of his increased role, establishing himself as the Blazers best offensive threat off the bench. Brooklyn gives Crabbe his first opportunity to start regularly, and we’ve seen this play out in different ways in previous years.
"I really was impressed with Crabbe last year," a second scout told Lewis. "It took me a minute or two. He had that nice fluidness to him, that long body. Allan [Houston] was that same way, and he was a hell of a player. I didn’t think Allen Crabbe would’ve made it this far and been this good.
The second round restricted free agent acquisition is a risky one as history tells us. It didn’t work out with Landry Fields, but it did work out with Gilbert Arenas (all things considered). Considering the team who signed him, it failed with Lance Stephenson, who’s still a free agent, yet it worked out (initially) with Omer Asik. Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger were about the same on their respective new teams.
Crabbe is getting a lot of money, but in this market it seems to be the norm. Now, we wait and in the meantime, here's some more highlights.
Bottom line: What’s life without risk?