INDIANAPOLIS – The Timberwolves player who knows Allen Crabbe the best is Shabazz Napier.
Napier was with Crabbe, who the Wolves acquired Thursday in a trade with Atlanta, both in Portland and Brooklyn for a combined two seasons. Napier said he can see a match between the Wolves’ three-point heavy style of play and Crabbe’s shooting acumen.
“He’s a great teammate. Very solid, does everything you ask,” Napier said. “He can [really] shoot … Great defender. Has everything this team needs.”
The Wolves traded Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to get Crabbe, who wasn’t with the team for Friday’s 116-114 defeat at Indiana but could make his debut Saturday at home against Toronto.
His familiarity with the Wolves system is one of the reasons the Wolves pulled the trigger to trade for him. Like Napier, Crabbe has played for two Wolves assistant coaches — David Vanterpool in Portland and Pablo Prigioni in Brooklyn.
Mid-season trades can be tricky for players to handle, but the familiarity Crabbe has with the Wolves’ style should help with that, coach Ryan Saunders said.
“We’re fortunate Allen is a guy who doesn’t necessarily needs to have a package of plays put in for him initially …” Saunders said. “He’s a guy who plays well off others. His ability to shoot the ball throughout his career is something we’ve been keen on. Those days in Portland, his ability to run off screens and catch and shoot situations just adds another dimension to what we can do offensively.”
Those days in Portland were some of the best in Crabbe’s career. In the 2016-17 season he was a 44% three-point shooter. Crabbe had a tough season in Atlanta, playing in only 28 games and averaging 5.1 points, but Saunders said the Wolves looked more at Crabbe’s career numbers as an indicator for what he can do.
“Very encouraged and that’s what you should look at right now,” Saunders said. “Atlanta plays in some different situations and I think that Allen, he’ll like a number of things that we’re able to do moving forward and we’ll like things he can do. He’s had some productive games this year already too, but he’s had productive stops in this league and I think he’s going to add a nice piece to us on our growing wing depth.”
Napier said Crabbe shouldn’t have a problem meshing in the locker room.
“He’s a cool guy, easy to get along with,” Napier said. “He and I met in Portland and the first time I met him he was quiet at first, as we all are, and we just started communicating more and became closer. He’s a close friend of mine. I was excited to see him, to come in and just be himself.
“Obviously shooting is something that we need.”
Saunders said Crabbe’s position on the floor is more of a “three” or small forward but could play across multiple positions. As for Teague and Graham, Saunders said he was appreciative of what they brought to the team.
“[Graham’s] got a beautiful family and we’d always share stories because he had his son around the same time I had mine,” Saunders said. “We were able to connect through that and Jeff is one of the most enjoyable guys I’ve ever been around away from the court too. I think that’s something fans and people don’t always get to see about these players and I really hope that at their next stops they excel.”