Celtic Jae Crowder filling leadership role for Grizzlies
By Adam Himmelsbach, Boston Globe
In December 2014, the Celtics acquired Jae Crowder from the Mavericks in the deal that sent Rajon Rondo to Dallas. The Celtics were in the early stages of their rebuild then, and there was some belief that Boston might try to lose intentionally to improve its chances at a higher draft pick.
But soon after Crowder arrived, he went to coach Brad Stevens and made it clear to him that such an approach was not in his DNA. Crowder turned into one of the important cogs of the Celtics’ ascension. They made the playoffs that season and have been in the postseason every year since.
On Wednesday, Crowder returned to Boston as a member of the Grizzlies, another team that was expected to do very little but has improbably vaulted into a playoff position.
“I just think Jae’s a winner,” Stevens said before the game. “He impacts winning everywhere he’s been. I don’t know how many guys have been in the number of places that he’s played and every one of them goes to the playoffs regardless of what preseason expectations are, and he just impacts winning. He cares about it.
“He plays both ends of the court. He was one of our first guys that we had during the first couple years I was here that could play a number of different positions, could guard a number of different positions, and just was very comfortable with adding value to winning.”
Crowder entered Wednesday averaging 10.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists this season. In the 119-95 loss to the Celtics, Crowder had just 3 points with six rebounds in 18 minutes.
“From the moment I sat down with him, he was super excited about this opportunity, how this was obviously a new role for him,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He credits a lot of people that he learned from in his journey from Dallas to Boston, Cleveland, Utah, and to now where he can fill that leadership role. Obviously, he’s got to lead by example on the floor. There’s so many things that go on behind the scenes, how he works every single day individually, and that kind of sets the tone for the group.”