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Atkinson says Crabbe’s effectiveness and Nets’ success goes hand-in-hand

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Allen Crabbe has yet to look like the sharpshooter the Nets needed, craved, and envisioned when they signed him to a huge $75 million offer sheet in the summer of 2016, then traded for in the summer of 2017.

Thirteen games into the season, the Nets have seen some highs and lows from the now fifth-year guard, who has cooled off quite a bit after a pretty hot start.

Over his last three games, Crabbe has shot 18 percent from three-point land, converting on 3-of-17 attempts. In that same span he’s averaged only 6.3 points on 31 percent shooting overall, reaching double digits (12 points) only once in the Nets’ narrow victory over his former Blazer squad, in Portland on Friday. That’s a big tail-off. In his first 10 games, Crabbe put up 11.9 points on 25.4 minutes and shot 40 percent from downtown.

It was his inconsistency and big contract that drove Portland to send him to Brooklyn. It was a double salary dump, with the Nets giving up Andrew Nicholson who was owed almost $20 million.

After Monday’s practice, Net head coach Kenny Atkinson tried to explain that inconsistency, saying there’s a domino effect between Crabbe’s play and the Nets’ success.

“I keep saying this; his play is a direct correlation to how the team plays,” said Atkinson. “We have to play well for him to play well. He’s got to come with more consistent energy. I’m happy with him. Teams are obviously focusing in on him on the first unit now. Looking to lock him up. It’s an area of improvement for him. We’ve also got to find a way for him to get open shots. We’ve get to screen better for him, we’ve got to get our spacing better, it’s a work in progress.”

Atkinson did give Crabbe credit for improving on the defensive end, an area that was heavily criticized in the latter portion of what turned out to be his final season out west.

“First of all, I’m happy with his defense,” Atkinson said of Crabbe. “It’s the first thing I told him today. That’s the challenge we gave him. I think consistency is a Nets problem too, we have to be more consistent. Back-to-back I felt like generally we did not come out with the necessary focus.”

Now that the Nets are back home, we’ll see if the Barclays Center crowd can assist Crabbe in rediscovering his damn-near automatic and pure stroke from three, which, according to Atkinson, is the engine that helps the Nets go, “and vice versa.”