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Allen Crabbe still getting in sync

Brooklyn Nets

Back in May, right after his final season in Portland, Allen Crabbe traveled to New York for foot surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Dr. Martin O’Malley presiding. His subsequent rehab inhibited his integration with his new teammates in Brooklyn.

As a result, the 6’6” sharpshooter didn’t start scrimmaging with the guys until September. He opened up about that after Friday’s practice, the first since preseason concluded with a loss to Philly 48 hours prior.

“It was just rehab for me,” he said, describing what he was doing after he was traded in July. “A lot of rehabbing, a lot of individual workouts on the court and in the weight room. That was pretty much my summer. They weren’t trying to rush anything. They were making sure everything was 100 percent.”

The time off didn’t sit well with Crabbe, but he understood. Then, he sprained his ankle in practice, frustrating him further. But as of now, he says there are no complaints, because the health is now where it needs to be.

“I feel good, I feel healthy, so I can’t really complain. The ankle was even more frustrating – it was just more time that was off,” he said. “I was getting into the rhythm, in the groove of training camp, the first two days were good and then I went down with that. Luckily, thank God it wasn’t as serious as we thought it would’ve been. I’m back now just making sure I take care of my body and that it won’t happen again.”

Crabbe is back now, and he summed up the Nets’ 3-1 preseason as “pretty good.” But he also spoke to the group’s defensive deficiencies, which the 76ers exploited, big time in the person of one Joel Embiid.

Crabbe himself didn’t like the way he performed on the defensive end, and says that side of the ball is what needs the most work in Brooklyn.

“Just (need to) tighten up on defense as a team. Individually, myself as well,” he said. “I really didn’t like the way I performed defensively against the Sixers. Our offense with the players that we have, I feel like our offense will click. I feel like we could get baskets out of that pretty simple. Defense is the primary thing we’re focused on heading into the season.”

In speaking to the Nets offense, Crabbe praised Kenny Atkinson for the freedom the head coach has given him and others.

That could get interesting. Crabbe averaged 3.8 three-point attempts in 28.5 minutes per game last season and shot an NBA second best 44.4% from deep. In the Nets’ pace-and-space system, he’s looking for more, and thinks he’ll get it, in the name of Brooklyn basketball.

“Yeah, I would like more attempts, but the way our offense flows, guys will get shots,” he said. “Coach Atkinson is giving everyone the freedom to do it. If you have an open look, take it. He lets guys make plays. That’s all you can ask from your coach. You don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder if you make a mistake. You can play basketball; you can play it freely. I feel like that’s what most guys like about him – he lets you do what you do.”

The presumed starting line-up at this point has Crabbe at the 3, D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin in the backcourt, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Timofey Mozgov holding down the 4 and 5 slots. But DeMarre Carroll started all four preseason games with Crabbe playing a lesser role.

Crabbe doesn’t care too much about starting, and although he acknowledges that this is the goal of any NBA player, he’s not too caught up in being on the floor at tip-off.

“My job is to just go out there whenever I’m on the court, play good basketball, play team basketball, make plays and make winning plays,” he said. “Whether it’s me starting or coming off the bench, it’s not my call it’s up to the coaches.”

Atkinson says he still hasn’t made him his mind regarding the first five. Crabbe, however, is definitely in the mix.

“It’s still to be determined,” said Atkinson. “Still have to look at everything and he’s a part of that. Look at his progression. That being said I do like how that group played together, that starting five. But nothing is set in stone yet.”

It’s good to have mystery.