Which NBA title contender will Jae Crowder join?

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Jae Crowder

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Championship NBA teams have always revolved around star players, but the glue guys/role players make it possible for franchises to become title contenders. There are stars all over the Association, but only those with the best supporting casts can make deep runs into the postseason year after year. Regarding role players, Jae Crowder of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the more prominent “others” in the league over the past few years. Now that his tenure with the Suns appears to be finished, teams are lining up in anticipation of acquiring Crowder.

While the details of the Crowder situation are still a bit murky, Phoenix GM James Jones has been open about it being a mutual agreement for Crowder to sit out until they conclude on the matter. Ultimately, the only possible solution would be to move Crowder to another team, which should be relatively easy. The former second-round pick already has teams interested and would be an excellent fit for a few contenders.

Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks are interesting because they were close to acquiring Crowder recently in what would’ve been a three-team trade with Houston as the third participant. Just because this deal was put on hold for now, doesn’t mean it or something similar can’t be worked out before the trade deadline in February. Milwaukee is already one of the favorites to win the title this year, and adding Crowder might push them past the Boston Celtics for Eastern Conference supremacy.

Adding Crowder to the Bucks’ second unit would be more of a move for the postseason but getting him on the team as early as possible will only benefit the team’s chemistry. Some still believe that had Khris Middleton (pictured) been healthy against the Celtics last postseason, the Bucks would’ve gotten past them and ultimately wound up in the NBA Finals facing Golden State.

Should Milwaukee find a way to bring in Crowder, they’d have another guy who can knock down big shots in clutch time, plays hard on defense, and always gives the maximum effort. Aside from that, he can still contribute 10-12 points per game, and no contender is turning that down. It’d be like adding another Bobby Portis to the roster, which would be scary.

Golden State Warriors

Steph Curry

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Saying the Warriors have struggled early on would be an understatement. After 28 games, Golden State is 14-14 when compared to a 23-5 record at the same point last season. Defense is one of the most significant factors in the Warriors’ slow start. More importantly, their defense on the road. At home in the safe confines of Chase Center, the Warriors still rank among the top teams in the league defensively, but on the road, they’re one the worst.

Losing Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II in the offseason has had more significance than previously thought. Those guys brought energy, and defense, and they didn’t mind doing the dirty work along with scoring when the time was right. Crowder could help fill the gap left by Porter and Payton’s departures. No one expects Golden State to struggle all year, but they need to clean up their road woes, and bringing in a player like Crowder could only help.

Miami Heat

Anthony Davis, Jae Crowder, LeBron James

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The Heat are far from championship contention, but then you could’ve said the same thing this time last year. Miami was a sneaky pick last season and came within a Jimmy Butler missed three of the front of the rim from advancing to the Finals. The Heat currently sit outside the play-in with a 13-15 record, but all it takes is a little luck for a team to get hot, and they could be right back in the playoff picture in a matter of weeks.

Under Pat Riley’s watch, Miami has never been afraid to make a deal, and doing so to get Crowder could be the move that helps catapult them back into the mix. This team needs to play better in general, but sometimes certain players can add a spark even if they come off the bench. Crowder was a key role player for the Heat’s run to the Finals in the Orlando bubble in 2020. Having that familiarity with the organization and players should make for an easy transition back into that Heat culture we hear so much about.

Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant

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Although Brooklyn has turned things around lately, they could use another versatile player who does a little bit of everything. Adding a defender like Crowder who plays the perimeter but also goes down low in a small ball lineup could be a recipe for success with the Nets. Scoring will rarely be an issue with any team led by Kevin Durant (pictured) and Kyrie Irving, but defense and rebounding will always be the area that haunts them. Crowder isn’t the biggest frontcourt player at 6-foot-6, but anytime the Nets can add another six rebounds per game and somebody that doesn’t mind mixing it up with opposing teams, they should jump at the opportunity.

New Orleans Pelicans

CJ McCollum

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You might be surprised by the Pelicans appearing on this list. New Orleans is tied atop the Western Conference with Memphis, but only four games separate them from No. 9 Dallas. The Pelicans have rolled so far this season, but they are a young team with little playoff experience outside of C.J. McCollum (pictured). Finding a way to acquire Crowder would give them another veteran presence off the bench and someone who has played in multiple NBA Finals.

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