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Allen Crabbe is shooting well but continues to struggle off the dribble

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Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Nets knew what they were getting when they traded for Allen Crabbe.

They acquired a lethal 3-point shooter who played on a team with two ball-dominant guards. He was the after-thought until they needed a 3-pointer or some sort of spark off the bench. The big question heading into the season for both the Nets and Crabbe was keyed to his improvement in other areas.

Crabbe suffered a minor setback to start the season with an ankle injury and this was after foot surgery back in May. So, it took him some time to get back to normal, but he’s finally found some rhythm in that he’s averaged 12.4 points on 40.5 percent 3-point shooting in 19 games played with better numbers with D’Angelo Russell down. He poses as the ideal “system-fit” with his natural ability to hit the three ball, but there are issues that he needs to work on in order to be even more ideal.’

The 40.5 percent clip is impressive, but the most efficient shot he’s taken are spot-ups where he is 43-of-97 (44.3 percent) on the season.

However, he’s failed to find rhythm off the dribble and that’s a problem for players categorized as ‘one-dimensional.’ They’re already limited with their offensive arsenal. Thus it’s important they perfect the craft to its fullest. Otherwise, they become predictable and easier to track defensively.

According to NBA.com, Crabbe is 4-of-17 from 3-point range when he takes one or more dribbles before shooting. That’s 23.5 percent. It may not be worth fretting about (yet) and it is a small sample.

Still, it’s an indication that he struggles to create shots for himself. If the offense isn’t crisp and fluid the way it’s meant to be, Crabbe finds himself in some awkward situations with the ball. It coincides with another stat from NBA.com that tracks players’ efficiency based on shot selection.

When he pulls up, typically off a pick-and-roll or isolation, he’s just 4-of-16 (25 percent) from 3-point range and 12-of-33 (36.4 percent) anywhere inside the arc. Compare that to his catch-and-shoot numbers this year noted above (44.3 percent).

Also, compare that to Joe Harris, who is shooting 41 percent in spot-up situations and 7-of-17 (41 percent) when he takes one or more dribbles before pulling up. Harris will make $1.5 million this season, less than 10 percent of Crabbe’s $19.3 million.

For Crabbe, it’s a work in progress. He’s still only 25 years old and has had one offseason under his belt with Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff. He knew prior to the season that he would have to get better in certain aspects of his game.

“You know, the more I’m put in a situation the more I’m going to learn; run it effectively and do certain things. It’s what any basketball player can ask for is an expanded role,” said Crabbe at his introductory press conference.

He still commands respect. In an expanded role, Crabbe is averaging 12.4 points – nearly two more than he averaged in Portland on two more shots per game. He’s already started in more games this season than he has in any season in the past, but he’s averaging 27.3 minutes per game – more than a minute less than he averaged in Portland last season.

His role is certainly bigger in Brooklyn and expectations are higher with that big contract. That’s why we dig into these numbers. The Nets are constantly talking about areas for improvement – as a team and as individuals – well here’s one for Allen Crabbe.

It’s on him to improve off the dribble and be less predictable out on the perimeter.