One year later than the Brooklyn Nets hoped, Allen Crabbe will finally play a key role on the court at Barclays Center.
The sharpshooting guard had signed an offer sheet as a restricted free agent with the Nets last July, but the Portland Trail Blazers opted to match and retain him. After another solid campaign, the Blazers shipped him to Kings County in a cost-clearing move.
Playing in a crowded Portland backcourt behind high-scoring guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Crabbe averaged 10.5 points in 27.2 minutes over 160 games the past two seasons. Although primarily used off the bench, the 25-year-old projects as a starter with the Nets.
A bigger role should come with a small uptick in minutes, but few should worry if Crabbe can handle that responsibility. He played at least 30 minutes in 50 games the past two seasons. In that sample, his scoring rate remained consistent, averaging 13.2 points in 33.4 minutes. In those 50 games, his shooting percentages from the field and beyond the arc both increased.
Crabbe’s 11-point first quarter against the New York Knicks on Oct. 8 was a glimpse at what Crabbe can do, and it impressed his new teammates.
“If he could do that every game, please Allen do that every game,” Jeremy Lin told reporters after the game. “That was amazing,”
Although valued primarily as a shooter, the fifth-year veteran is a serviceable defender. He also said he has bought into coach Kenny Atkinson’s system on offense, which Crabbe told reporters is “perfect” for him.
“It’s a different feel here, when coach is telling you to do more, to shoot more. It’s like the ultimate green light,” he said.