In exactly one week, a group of 60 college and international basketball players will hear their names called at a podium on a stage inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Drew Crawford will not be one of them. Rated No. 95 among draft-eligible college seniors by DraftExpress, Crawford will need to fight his way onto an NBA roster by showing well in Summer League or working his way up through the D-League. Or he could sign with a team in a foreign league, like two Northwestern greats before him: John Shurna and Juice Thompson.
Wherever Crawford ends up, the team that signs him will take the following into consideration.
Crawford is a good athlete who can score and rebound effectively. He averaged double-digit points in each of his five seasons, drew fouls at a decent rate (4.7 per 40 minutes) in his final season and played a ton of minutes. Crawford can shoot it from deep – though his three-point percentage peaked in 2011-12, to 41.2, and declined in two subsequent seasons. He rebounds well for his size, posting a 15.8 defensive rebounding percentage – a team-high, which isn’t saying much, but still – last season.
Crawford has the tools to be a good defender but was inconsistent. Last season he yielded nearly a point per possession while guarding spot ups, his most frequent play type, but fared well on (a small simple size of) isolations, giving up 0.71 PPP. Crawford’s age, 23, suggests he’s already nearing his peak, so it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll improve in the coming years. Upside is a term people like to make fun of this time of year, but when evaluating guys like Crawford, it’s something that shouldn’t be brushed aside.
Now, Crawford did show well in the Reese’s All-Star Game, and his father is an NBA Referee – which, well, make of it what you will. Also, dude could have played for programs far better, and more likely to make the NCAAs, than Northwestern, in his final season. But he stuck around. So could he make it to the league at some point? Maybe. He won’t get there via this year’s draft, that's for sure. Crawford may spend a season or two in the D League or Europe before getting his shot, if he ever does.