Allen Crabbe in position for a breakout season in 2015-16


With the absence of Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez, the Blazers’ remaining bench players and their offseason acquisitions have some big shoes to fill next season. And, with the way the roster looks right now, guys like Allen Crabbe are going to have plenty of opportunities to make a mark and take another step in their career.

Of all the young “prospects” on Portland’s roster, outside of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and maybe Noah Vonleh, Crabbe might be the most intriguing.

Throughout his short NBA career, Crabbe has shown flashes of being able to contribute on a consistent basis, but he’s never been needed to keep a long-term spot in the rotation. I would argue that he has, consequently, not had a real chance to get any rhythm in the league.

When Crabbe did play in his first two NBA seasons, it was often because the Trail Blazers were on one end of an insurmountable lead, or because they needed him to fill in for an injured player. Some of those minutes were in big games, but he also played a lot of garbage time minutes, as well.

This season, Crabbe could legitimately challenge teammate Al-Farouq Aminu to be the Blazers’ starting small forward. In that role, we would all find out really quickly whether or not Crabbe is going to be a decent player in the NBA.

Projected to 36 minutes per game, Crabbe’s stat line isn’t too bad. He’d be averaging slightly below ten points per game with starter minutes; perhaps more as his scoring efficiency climbs.

Based on what we just saw in NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, I think there is a good chance Crabbe could surprise some people with how productive he can be this season, especially from beyond the arc.

In four games before suffering a severe ankle sprain, Crabbe was one of the best players in the whole tournament and exhibition. He averaged 15.5 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.

Overall, Crabbe’s Summer League performance reminded me a lot of McCollum’s Summer League in 2014. McCollum was easily the best player on the team, just like Crabbe was when on the court. Crabbe was able to take over a few games, unlike anything he’d been able to do in the NBA up to that point.

In a lot of ways, McCollum still struggled this past season in the NBA, despite excelling in Summer League. Yet those struggles, I believe, only helped McCollum become the player he was at the end of the season. The player that rose up to keep Portland competitive in the post season.

Crabbe is going to struggle this season too, but hopefully, he’ll be able to use his experience and more playing time to his advantage and translate it into strides on the court. The talent is there for Crabbe. He just has to make his shots and find a way to put his stamp on the game. That’s a lot easier said than done, but his best chance to do it is now.

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