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Irish Coffee: When Rajon Rondo returns, Jerryd Bayless should bump Jordan Crawford down the Celtics depth chart

01.14.14 at 9:31 am ET
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Since winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 2-8, Jordan Crawford is among a handful of the NBA’s worst shooting regulars (46.5 TS%), and yet his usage rate ranks second only to Jeff Green on the Celtics.

By no coincidence, the C’s are 3-14 in that span. We have a sample size of 215 games in Crawford’s career, and his teams are now 71-144 when he takes the floor. That’s a .330 winning percentage. And that’s bad.

Rajon Rondo has hinted that his return could come as soon as Friday against the Lakers, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens will be forced to adjust his backcourt depth chart. Assuming Rondo and Avery Bradley start and each play 30-plus minutes a night, that leaves somewhere around 25-30 minutes to split between the remaining guard corps.

Who deserves those minutes more? Crawford or Jerryd Bayless. Friday night’s loss to the Rockets offered the answer: Jordan Crawford is the odd man out. As Crawford forced shot after shot through three quarters, Bayless bided his time, taking only two in 11:31. Then came the fourth quarter, when Stevens stuck with Bayless over Crawford for all 12 minutes, and the newly acquired guard asserted himself as the game demanded, ultimately scoring 15 points on 11 shots and making a game of what was once a mockery.

“Honestly, we were at a point where we weren’t really scoring, and I tried to get a little more aggressive. There are times where I need to be more aggressive, but a lot of times, like early on, Avery was playing great, and I was trying to get him the ball at every angle I could. I just tried to pick my spots, and a couple shots went in.”

Take a wild guess whether that quote came from Crawford or Bayless. (Hint: Rhymes with Schmayless.)

“He was good defensively most of the night and provides a spark obviously offensively in a lot of the same ways that Avery provides a spark with his ability to pull up and hit tough jump shots,” said Stevens. “And I thought he gave us a chance — as did that whole second group. I thought they were all playing pretty darn hard there.”

Care to take a guess who the Celtics coach was describing there?

Now, Bayless isn’t perfect. He can be a gunner, too, but at least the effort’s there. While Crawford began the season a changed player, he’s reverted to the form everyone knows and doesn’t love. And it’s not like he’ll press less once Rondo’s return forces him to the bench. The Celtics had a chance to sell high on him, but that time has passed. What’s the harm in giving Bayless, another 25-year-old on an expiring contract, a chance in the change of scenery?

“It’s pretty cool,” said Bayless. “(Sunday) night, I went to the practice facility for the first time. Playing and working out under all the banners makes you go a little bit harder. It’s a really great opportunity to be here and play here.

“It’s tough (coming to a team in the middle of a nine-game losing streak), but I’ll be OK,” he added. “I think these guys are great. Everybody’s been helpful from the team to the organization, everybody, and it’s been a great experience so far. And I’m just really looking forward to continuing to be a part of it and be a Celtic.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jerryd Bayless, Jordan Crawford, NBA
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