If one were to rank players according to the frustration they cause among the Moneyball crew, Jae Crowder was a regular in the discussion last season. It might seem unfair to label a second round rookie frustrating, but he showed such potential early and had flashes of solid play often enough to keep us interested in his progression. Leading into this season, one of the questions on the back burner was whether or not Jae Crowder was a rotation player for the Mavericks.

If we're being absolutely fair, Crowder's rookie campaign was a smashing success. He played 78 games, starting 16, had modest stats, and, most importantly, he contributed to a .500 team as a rookie. If we're being overly critical fan "analysts", Crowder's rookie year was an exercise in hair pulling.

He was a darling of the statistical world prior to the draft and he looks like a fearsome basketball player. Carlisle threw him to the wolves early with his defensive assignments and he fared as well as can be expected in the Western Conference. Offensively, he never seemed to identify a role. Though he had the occasional hot shooting game, he shot poorly from just about everywhere. His shot was erratic, he rarely attacked the rim, and he rebounded poorly for someone so physically imposing. He was a "three and D" player who wasn't very good at three's. His summer league performance didn't alleviate fears and heading into this season it was important Crowder improve on both ends of the floor if he hoped to become a rotation regular.

During the preseason we heard all the typical, positive spin coverage regarding a player with upside like Crowder, in particular that he lost weight. His performance during the pre-season didn't calm down his critics (namely Andy Tobo and myself), but he often found himself paired with end-of-bench players who didn't end up making the team.

Fast forward to the regular season. In game one he saw only 9 minutes of action, taking and making one corner three pointer at the start of the forth. Against the Rockets, he played a few minutes in the second quarter as Dallas was mainly trying to hang around, but the game ended up getting out of hand by the fourth. Then something weird happened: during garbage time he hit 5 of 7 from deep, making a blow out look respectable in the box score.