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Allen Crabbe and the numbers game

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of numbers you can use to define Allen Crabbe’s season but the two that count are $19.332 million —salary— and 36.4 —the percentage of his 3-point shots that find their mark.

The Nets would like to see the second match the expectations of the first.

On a team where other 6’6” and 6’7” swingmen have had promising seasons, Crabbe has been a disappointment. In 28 games — 21 of them starts — Crabbe is averaging only 12 points a game. The Nets had hoped for more, which they admit, but don’t think the 6’6” Californian is a lost cause. Far from it.

“Listen, he’s struggling a little bit,” coach Kenny Atkinson told Brian Lewis following the loss to Indiana. “I feel like he’s getting decent looks. I thought he attacked the rim [in the last game], which I liked. Maybe that can get him going a little more, getting to the rim.

“I don’t think he’s driving close-outs as well as he should. They’re closing out on him. He’s got to dribble, and [Saturday] he did it — he did it driving. Listen, the guy’s a 42 percent career 3-point shooter. We’re going to keep trusting him and trusting it.”

Atkinson exaggerated a little bit. Crabbe is shooting 40.1 percent from deep over his career. Last year, he shot 44.4 percent for the season, but this year, it’s dropped to that 36.9 number. Admittedly, like many three point shooters, he’s inconsistent and worse, his numbers are dropping. After shooting 42.6 percent in November, he has dropped to 31.5 percent in December. Last year, he shot 34.4 percent from three in November, then jumped to 51.9 percent in December.

Although he’s still starting, his two back-ups, Joe Harris and new arrival Nik Stauskas are playing bigger minutes ... and better production. Harris is shooting about the same percentage as Crabbe, 36.3 percent, while Stauskas, in a small sample, is firing up shots at a 52.2 percent clip.

Harris makes $1.52 million, Stauskas $3.81 million. Both will be free agents come July.

So what’s the solution? Go to the hole. As Lewis notes...

His 2.8 drives per game are by far the lowest of Brooklyn’s perimeter players, with even jump shooters Joe Harris at 3.5 and Nik Stauskas at 4.8. For perspective, Spencer Dinwiddie averaged 11 and injured D’Angelo Russell a team-high 12.3. Basically, driving just hasn’t been part of his game.

Now, he’s started to drive the ball and had 14 points against Indiana, with seven of his shots from inside the arc. Progress, if on a small scale. The real issue is getting his 3-pointers to drop.