When the NBA schedule was announced in August, Allen Crabbe said the first thing he did was look for when Brooklyn was playing at Portland.
Crabbe was traded from Portland to Brooklyn in July, and as it turns out, Friday’s game at the Moda Center hasn’t been the only time Portland has been on Crabbe’s mind.
“I remember them just like yesterday,’’ the former Blazers guard said Thursday on the eve of his return to Portland. “After my games I go home and turn on League Pass and see if I can catch the rest of their games. I’m still checking in on them, still watching them play, watching the guys.’’
He said it was “weird” to arrive in Portland and head to a hotel, and not his former home, and he said it was hard not to reflect on his four seasons in Portland, during which he developed from second-round bench warmer to a $75-million asset.
“I mean, I miss it, I’m not going to lie,’’ Crabbe said. “Coach (Nate Tibbets) did a good job developing me, teaching me how to be a professional … how to stick with it. No negatives in me being here at all.’’
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In Brooklyn, Crabbe has become the Nets’ starting shooting guard the last four games after being eased back into major minutes following offseason foot surgery and a sprained ankle on the same foot in training camp.
“He is what we call a system fit: he fits everything we are trying to do ,’’ Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s a super-efficient player … he’s doing great. Love him.’’
Crabbe is averaging 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range in 24.7 minutes a game.
Being back in Portland for Friday’s game isn’t the only sense of familiarity Crabbe has been experiencing. His old bugaboo – consistency – has been haunting him in Brooklyn as well.
His production has been all over the board, scoring as high as 25 points at the Lakers, to going scoreless and taking only two shots in 20 minutes against the Knicks. His last game, Tuesday at Denver, he had three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve been trying to change is the inconsistency part,’’ Crabbe said. “Having 20 one night, then the next night having three or four. So that’s just something I’ve been really trying to focus on … having a mindset of being aggressive. I think when I’m aggressive and get shot attempts up, good things happen.’’
The Nets (4-7) are prepared to give him the opportunity. Atkinson said “the sky is the limit” for Crabbe and that the franchise is “really high on him” and wants him to pursue becoming an elite player. Crabbe says he feels their confidence and realizes he has what he once longed for – a starting role where he is a focal point of the offense.
“It’s everything an NBA player would want – to be a key piece to a team,’’ Crabbe said. “I don’t think it was going to happen (in Portland).’’
The biggest adjustment he says is playing without looking over his shoulder, and not worrying about mistakes. The coaching staff in Brooklyn, Crabbe says, tells him to take risks.
“They are always telling me I’m the type of player who plays not to make any mistakes, but here that’s the only way you are going to grow – take risks, get out of your comfort zone, do things you normally wouldn’t. They are giving me the freedom to do that.’’