Looking Ahead: Jae Crowder
USA Today

After the Rajon Rondo trade, many thought the Boston Celtics had gotten the short end of the stick. However, out of that trade emerged Jae Crowder who is now on board for the next five years at the tune of $35 million.

Drafted in 2012 with the 34th overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 6'6" Crowder spent half of last season with the Dallas Mavericks before being dealt to the Boston Celtics. Seen as a throw in, Crowder proved his value in the playoffs and toward the end of the season with his defensive tenacity and fearless attitude. At 25-years old, he still has so much to prove and can become a very big part of this young Celtics core.

Back in April, Crowder was asked about the Cleveland Cavaliers and if his own club was intimidated by them, to which he responded, “Nobody on their team is intimidating. We’re all NBA basketball players, we’re not intimidated.

His attitude helps a young Celtics team grow, as he has been one of their most fearless defenders, and showed no sense of backing down when he was tasked with guarding LeBron James during the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Crowder was a refreshing sight for the Celtics last season as he used his athletic ability and strength to stay in front of opponents defensively. He made life tough for small forwards and shooting guards, having active hands and going up for rebounds. However, his offensive game suffered. Crowder shot about three three-pointers a game last season, and only sunk 28 percent of them for the season. With the strength he has, it'll be beneficial for Crowder to attack the rim this season and land the opposition into foul trouble.

He was a spark for this C's team which sorely needed one at times, doing everything in his power to keep his team going. He came through in the clutch when he sunk a buzzer beater to sink the Toronto Raptors late in the season.

Last season in Boston, Crowder had 264 rebounds, 204 of which were on the defensive end. He also had 20 blocks and 57 steals for the C's, making him one of their most productive defenders on the floor. Offensively, he scored a total of 539 points, which is the highest in his career. These numbers are ones that should make any Celtics fan optimistic about what the future will bring.

While Crowder is 6'6", he's not seen as a guard as much as he is seen as a wing player. Crowder can fill the role that James Posey did back in 2008 which is that, of swingman. Crowder can space the floor by providing a three-point shot and can become gritty on the defensive end. He's much younger than Posey was when the Celtics made their championship run, and also more physical, which is a benefit for this team.

Projected Role for the Season:

Starter. Crowder shined last season and with a starting lineup including second-year guard Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, he will help piece together a very tough defensive unit for Boston. Crowder's contract dips in the second season and then starts to rise again, but it never goes beyond seven million a year, making his deal a very cap-friendly one while still giving Ainge the option to trade him if necessary.

Crowder is a piece that can grow with this young core and help Boston get back to the big stage. It might take some time, but with a full training camp coming up with his Celtics teammates, Crowder is in a position to make some noise this season.

(Quotes courtesy of NESN.com)