Who Is Allen Crabbe and Why Is He Making $19 Million?

Quietly, Allen Crabbe traded conferences. He didn’t let go of his $19 million though. He’ll take that with him to Brooklyn, the team that signed Crabbe to an offer sheet last summer and traded for him this summer. Regardless of his across the country move, Crabbe still has to justify his $19 million considering he is a 10 point per game player. Yes, it is a ridiculous number if you deconstruct players to their binary sum. But for the rest of us, salaries don’t always mean production. Sometimes they are a message.

Last summer, the Nets wanted to make the Blazers cave and not match an offer even they would admit was overpriced. But to get what you want you have to make it an impossible offer. Like most Nets things, the gamble blew up in their face. For a year. Now they have Crabbe and it is twelve months later and so it is full circle for Crabbe, the Cal Berkeley scorer, who found himself pulled between two teams.

When the Nets signed Crabbe to an offer sheet for the full max in 2016 to prevent the Blazers from matching, it was the only hand the Nets had to play. Trading top of the draft picks away to the Celtics meant they had to be players on the free agent market to get young talent. Crabbe is no one’s Klay Thompson but a 41% three point shooter is nothing to throw shade at. He spaces the floor and makes perimeter shots. Whereas Crabbe was lucky last year when the Blazers wanted to keep him and overpaid, this year Crabbe was squeezed. The taxable cap starts at $120 million and Crabbe’s contract meant the Blazers were vulnerable. Trading Crabbe had nothing to do with Crabbe the player but with what Crabbe makes (translation: too much). The overpayment put the Blazers in salary cap Armageddon. His three point talent meant he was attractive to move and so here he is with Brooklyn.

Getting Buckets 2016-17 Points 3-Point% Offensive Rating PER Salary
Allen Crabbe 10.7 44.4% 117 11.6 $18,500,000
Klay Thompson 22.3 41.4% 111 17.4 $16,663,575
Bradley Beal 23.1 48.2% 117 20.1 $22,116,750

That Crabbe is making more than Klay Thompson is a ridiculous thought but then it is not. Economics isn’t just based on performance, although that is a big part of the getting paid pie. Timing is key. Does someone value you enough to overpay you to keep others from having you? Allen Crabbe answered yes and so here he is in Brooklyn, the highest paid player.

It’s clear what the Nets are trying to do. They picked up D’Angelo Russell and now Crabbe. They are going for a Warriors attack without the defense. The Nets are young so expect them to run up and down, score a lot of points, give up a lot of points and be entertaining if they can’t be good.

But who is Allen Crabbe?

The Los Angeles born Crabbe was Mr. Basketball for California before heading north to Berkeley where he averaged 15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. He’s been a better three point shooter in the pros than in college, 40.0%+ for three years in a row. He’s a 49.3% two point shooter, so efficiency is his game. In Portland, he just didn’t take enough shots, only 8 shots a game the past two years. He’s never had any pressure and all that is going to change if he can’t put the ball in the hole and still has the title of more money than Klay.

Crabbe’s rebounding is mediocre and he barely averages more than one assist a game so he’s not what we would a call a team player. He is out there to score. His offensive rating was 117 last year. But then again with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, he was never guarded. It won’t be the case in Brooklyn.

25 year old Crabbe fits the league. 45% of his shots are threes while .08% of his shots come from midrange. He is the perfect compliment for Russell when Russell is driving or when Lin is doubled. He’ll be given more responsibility and more touches with the ball and even more minutes.

But his major weakness is his defense. Out of 93 shooting guards, his defense was ranked 90th. (Defensive Real Plus-Minus). Guarding his position isn’t a skill and so he’ll fit in with the Nets. He gives them scoring only which makes him a one-dimensional $18 million dollar man.

Worst Shooting Guard Defenders

  • Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana)
  • Jamal Crawford (Minnesota)
  • Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota)
  • Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn)

The best thing to happen to Crabbe was the trade to Brooklyn, even if he is trading playoff appearances for minutes and game time. No one in Brooklyn will care that he is overpaid (unless he can’t produce, then the natives will get restless). He will get minutes and an opportunity to develop his skill as a shooting specialist.

The question Crabbe has to answer is can he start in the NBA and play 30 minutes? Can he be a seamless alternative to Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell? Can he improve on the defensive end and switch from offense to defense, and more importantly, how long will it take him to improve in the team game, helping others as much as he helps himself?

His specialty is what the Nets need as they will attempt at slashing three point records on way to another lottery pick year. Being overpaid isn’t Crabbe’s problem. He took what was on the dotted line, plus this isn’t Portland. He can take the floor night after night with the intention of getting better and helping the Nets improve. He’ll miss Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. But he is a critical piece for the Nets that he wasn’t for the Blazers.

This is for sure. The Brooklyn Nets are more exciting this year than last year. Fans will come. Crabbe and Russell and Lin are the backbone for an exciting perimeter attack that will put a lot of points on the board in entertaining losses.

It’s The Process- Brooklyn Style married to D’Antoni ball.


photo via llananba