The Utah Jazz sent three players to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the exchange for veteran point guard Mike Conley and the best among those is Jae Crowder. Even if you want to argue Kyle Korver, it seems fairly unlikely that the 38-year old sharpshooter actually appears in a game for the Grizzlies.
Crowder will be the most immediate payoff for Memphis in the Conley trade. Grayson Allen is a development project as are the draft picks received (obviously). This may or may not be desirable for a now-rebuilding franchise, but it’s nice to have veterans along for the ride who can offer a little hand-holding to the young prospects.
That last bit, the ushering along the development of draftees, may likely be the thing Crowder contributes most in his time in Memphis. In Utah, Crowder was a beloved player and teammate. He fit well within the locker room and provided a positive attitude.
Crowder’s attitude and on-court demeanor also made him a quick fan-favorite. He’s the junkyard dog that every team needs and every fan loves. Even when his play didn’t live up to what was expected, given his role, you couldn’t really hate Crowder straight up.
In terms of on-court performance, it’s a bit of a mixed bag for Crowder. As a Jazzman, he actually didn’t play well in a number of ways. He was rarely a negative, but neither did he significantly raise the overall potential of the team.
Shooting ended up being the biggest weakness of Crowder. He shot 32.8 percent from deep in two seasons in Utah. That’s not crippling, but he also was jacking up 6.3 per game in that span, by far the highest rate of his career. When Crowder was hitting those, the Jazz were nigh unstoppable, but those games were somewhat few and far between. He also doesn’t contribute much in the pick-and-roll or passing game. He’s no point forward à la Draymond Green.
Those offensive limitations may appear to clash with the previous statement of Crowder not being a negative on the court. He’s not, don’t worry. How? Well, defense mostly. Crowder is a quality defender capable of switching onto pretty much anyone that isn’t a traditional center or lightning-quick guards. And while his offense isn’t spectacular, there were at least still those moments of competence that shone through darkness.
Overall, what Crowder mainly did was give the Jazz a taste of what a modern, more athletic, efficient, shooting stretch four could do for a team. When he first joined the team, Crowder contributed to a historic season-reversing run that included him being part of the best lineup by net rating over the second half of the season (Crowder, Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert). In that regard, his time in Utah was well spent. But by the end, his lack of improvement led to him overstaying his welcome.
While the era of Jae Crowder in Utah was ultimately short and had its fair share of bumps along the way, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Jazz fan who will tell you he is a bad player and even fewer will say he is a below-average human being and teammate. Those things may not be the greatest compensation for giving up a franchise legend like Conley, but that’s reality at this point.