Brooklyn Nets: Signs of a turnaround for Allen Crabbe

Brooklyn Nets Allen Crabbe. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Allen Crabbe. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets may have lost the game Wednesday night to the Dallas Mavericks, but it might have been the breakout game Allen Crabbe had been waiting for.

It took more than a month, but the Brooklyn Nets might have gotten a big win even in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Allen Crabbe broke out of his season-long shooting slump in a big way against the Mavericks, scoring a season-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and nailed 7-of-11 from 3-point range.

It was the first time in 18 games this season that Crabbe has made more than half of his shots and just the second time he’s hit better than 50 percent from behind the arc.

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We kept looking for signs of hope, such as when Crabbe made 4-of-7 from deep in a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 28 or the Saturday loss to the LA Clippers when he was 3-for-6 from long range.

Last season, his first with Brooklyn, Crabbe got off to a slow start after spraining his left ankle during the preseason. In his first 18 games, Crabbe was averaging 12.4 points per game on 41 percent shooting overall and 39.6 percent from 3-point range.

He tweaked the ankle again in late November and fell into a deep funk in December, shooting just 35,2 percent and 30.7 percent, respectively. January wasn’t a lot better — 38.8 and 35.6 percent, respectively.

Crabbe finished the season at 40.7 percent overall and 37.8 percent from 3-point range, both far worse than the 46.8 percent and 44.4 percent he put up in his final season with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016-17.

Compared to the start Crabbe had this season, last year was red hot.

Crabbe again sprained his left ankle in the preseason and wound up missing the final two preseason games as well as the season opener before returning for the home opener Oct. 19.

“Struggling” just doesn’t do justice for how Crabbe had been shooting prior to Wednesday night. In 24 minutes per game, Crabbe was averaging 7.1 points on 27.1 percent shooting overall, making 29.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.

That sort of shooting evokes images of guys with crew cuts in satin short shorts tossing up one-handed set shots in the very earliest days of the NBA.

Prior to Wednesday, Crabbe’s 8.2 shot attempts per game didn’t qualify him for the league lead, but of 164 players in the league averaging at least eight attempts a game, Crabbe was ranked No. 164 — well behind the next highest player on the list, Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, at 32.6 percent.

Of the 170 NBA players with averaging at least one made 3-pointer per team game played through Tuesday, Crabbe’s 29.5 percent was 154th.

So, yeah, no bueno.

How much was his percentage affected by Wednesday’s breakout performance? Crabbe’s overall shooting percentage increased from 27.1 to 30.8 percent. His 3-point mark jumped from 29.5 to 33.3 percent. The 27 points boosted his scoring average more than a point per game, from 7.1 to 8.2.

Crabbe has been starting since Caris LeVert went down last week with a dislocated right foot and in five games with the first unit, he’s averaging 12.4 points in 26.9 minutes per game while shooting 42.9 percent overall and 46.9 percent from 3-point range.

For a shooter with a track record of running colder than cold and hotter than hot, Wednesday’s performance might be the start of a trend reversal for Crabbe.

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