A new player’s performance during the NBA’s Summer League can foretell their greatness… or mediocrity. Sometimes it can be misleading.
Nicolas Batum played five games during 2008’s Summer League. He averaged over 25 minutes a game, managing to score just 6 per contest, along with an underwhelming 4 rebounds and an assist.
Allen Crabbe played six summer league games in 2013, and was similarly unspectacular. His 5 points, 3 rebounds, and (just shy of) one assist in 26 minutes wouldn’t impress anybody.
Could it be that Allen Crabbe will be the next Blazer to wildly underperform during Summer League and develop into an important core player?
Barring an asteroid wiping out the other 3/4ths of the team, the answer is no.
19-year-old Batum came to Summer League out of France, having played international ball for a couple of years, a game that’s much different (in pace, in skillset, in talent) than the NBA. His fluidity of movement and defensive instinct were obvious, even if his production was unimpressive. In short, he moved like a good player.
21-year-old Allen Crabbe came from having garnered Pac-12 Player of the Year honors as a sharpshooter with an imperfect stroke who showed some competency around the rim against college competition. His summer league had few silver linings. Unlike Batum, his movement around the court, while competent, didn’t show any flashes of elite athleticism or coordination. Exhibit A: an awkwardly-executed alley-oop (though he gets credit for catching the low lob and converting).
He also didn’t show impressive handles, great defense, or the court vision that would be a nice complement for a guy known for shooting and not a whole lot else.
It’s one thing to do something well. It’s another to do something else well enough to take pressure off your go-to skill.
What will Allen Crabbe be? Unless he has something up his sleeve that wasn’t shown in three years of college and a handful of Summer League games, he’s going to be a shooter who doesn’t embarrass himself on the court. If you were playing a pickup game, Crabbe would be picked fourth: he doesn’t get in the way, but you wouldn’t be leaning on him for anything important.
In the context of an NBA team, he’ll be a solid role player, the 3rd or 4th person off the bench. Nothing more.