Allen Crabbe is one of many perimeter players that has benefited from the outstanding coaching of Terry Stotts. The system in Portland is designed to get the guards on the ball as much as possible and Allen Crabbe has thrived alongside Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Al Farouq Aminu over the last twelve months. He is only a restricted free agent, but Indiana should seriously consider giving him an offer sheet this summer and if that offer is high enough, the rebuilding Portland probably won’t bother matching it.
Crabbe would fill a couple of things that GM Kevin Pritchard brought up in his recent interview. Pritchard pointed to the need to add versatility, shooting and playmaking to the team and Crabbe would offer all of these things to Indiana. He is a long term option for this franchise as he is only 24 years old and has benefited from some extremely good coaching which makes him ready to be an NBA starter after a couple of years as a role player in Portland.
Allen Crabbe’s premier attribute is obviously his shooting as he has a career field goal percentage of 45% and this is supported by a 39% chip from downtown. He can often be a ‘lights out’ shooter and he hit his career high three times last season which shows that he has gradually improved in Portland. His numbers were only matched by elite shooters such as Steph Curry and JJ Redick (and Jose Calderon) which shows that he thrives in a system that aims to get perimeter looks. He is at his best as a drive and dish perimeter shooter and this is shown best by the fact that when Damian Lillard was on the court, he shot 50% from the field and 44% from downtown. These numbers dropped to 42 and 35 when Lillard departed to the bench and Portland reverted to the so called ‘position-less basketball’. This drop shouldn’t be a worry in terms of an Indiana fit as the Pacers have Jeff Teague and Paul George who are both aggressive and potent at driving to the basket, one of them will most probably be on the floor at all times.
Allen Crabbe had an effective field goal percentage of 60 on Catch and Shoot attempts and of the 60 players who also attempted four per game, he ranked 8th in efficiency with only Steph Curry, JJ Redick, Khris Middleton, JR Smith, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Niko Mirotic ranking higher than him. The Pacers just lost their best catch and shoot guy in George Hill and they need to replace him, Crabbe would be able to fulfill that role in the offence and open up other opportunities. He is a better fit than Monta Ellis because Monta clogs the driving lanes and hampers floor spacing for Paul George. Jeff Teague is another player who would suffer from this as his 11.1 drives were possible because of good floor spacing from the likes of Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha. Indiana were 26th in field goal percentage off of catch and shoot last year and they lost George Hill who was the only effective option on this shot type- Crabbe fills a huge need in this sense and he can be a long term player in the new ‘pace and space’ era. Quick shooting is essential in an up tempo offence, most of the teams that rank high in pace such as Boston, Golden State and Washington all shot a lot of catch and shoot attempts. If the Pacers want this offence to work they have to introduce specialist players to the roster, not streaky cheap fits like CJ Miles.
His defense gets underrated too, although the Blazers are marginally better when he is off the court it isn’t really a major statistical difference (1.6 points per 100 possessions). His on the ball defense can be suffocating and our brothers at Blazers Edge seem to think he is a ‘versatile defender who fits in lots of ways’. This sort of praise is good enough for me to think Larry Bird might take a punt on him. He isn’t as good as a defender as other players like Luol Deng, Courtney Lee and Jared Dudley but he offers more on offence than these three which is what Bird has to look at as the 23rd placing in offensive efficiency has to improve. The offence was painful to watch last year and Crabbe can help improve it as he will create driving angles and provide more pace.
When discussing Crabbe there are a lot of ‘what-ifs’ as he is only a restricted free agent and Portland may match an offer that we give to him. The silver lining for Indiana fans is that Portland are a rebuilding team who want to cut costs and develop role players on team friendly contracts and they probably wouldn’t match a sizable offer sheet for Allen Crabbe. An offer of around $58 million over four years would probably be an offer Portland would consider avoiding because it wouldn’t fit in with their front office philosophy. The Pacers won’t be alone in wanting him as a lot of teams needs shooters and wings who can switch onto guards quickly, but the Pacers need to strongly consider giving this guy a nice offer.