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Better free-agent fit for Warriors: Crowder or Harkless?

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Aside from the four veterans -- Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson -- the Warriors’ roster is among the youngest and least tested in the NBA. There are more questions than answers.

There is a need to fortify the supporting cast with vets, players who know the rhythms of league, know the players and know what has worked and can explain why.

In this final installment, we consider two players that fit that criteria: Jae Crowder, who split last season between the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat, and Maurice Harkless, who split last season between the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. The Warriors are not likely to offer more than veteran-minimum deals unless they like someone enough to offer their taxpayer mid-level exception of roughly $5.9 million.

We compare five categories: Shooting, defense, athleticism, baggage and measurables. You choose. You debate.

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Shooting

Crowder: Played 65 games (53 starts) last season. In a tale of two cities, averaged 9.9 points per game, on 36.8 percent shooting, including 29.3 from deep in Memphis, but improved dramatically in Miami, posting 11.9, 48.2 and 44.5. That’s mostly a credit to better spacing, similar to what he’d get as a Warrior. Crowder posted solid catch-and-shoot numbers, and he’s always willing.

Career percentages: 42.1 (field goals), 34.0 (3-pointers), 77.8 (free throws).

Harkless: Played 62 games (48 starts) last season. Another tale of two cities. Though he posted a higher in average in New York (6.8 points per game) than LA (5.5), his shooting percentages were 51.6 and 37.0 with the Clips and 45.5 and 28.0 with the Knicks. He shot 41.5 percent from deep with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017-18. The majority of his shots are at the rim or corner 3s -- he’s decent at both -- and that’s what the Warriors are seeking.

 

Career percentages: 47.8 (field goals), 32.5 (3-pointers), 61.2 (free throws).

Edge: Crowder.

Defense

Crowder: He communicates, is good on the ball and capable of blowing up offensive schemes. Crowder's entrance into the Heat’s starting lineup coincided with an immediate improvement in team defense. He can guard at least three positions, in some cases four. His career defensive ratings range from satisfactory to superb. Is he a poor man’s Draymond Green? Crowder's season-high for blocks was three, with six multiple-block games. His season-high for steals was five (twice), with 19 multiple-steal games.

Harkless: That he was very good in LA and awful in New York can be attributed to surroundings, as he is generally above average. Harkless can guard both forward spots but, as a Clipper, also had success against James Harden and Kemba Walker. With exception of the Knicks, his career defensive ratings range from satisfactory to above average. His season-high for blocks was three, with nine multiple-block games. His season-high for steals was four, with 13 multiple-block games.

Edge: Even. Both are above average.

Athleticism

Crowder: Six-and-a-half on a 1-to-10 scale. Typical of someone who was a second-round pick (No. 34, right before Green, in 2012) and climbed from the G League, his greatest attribute is effort.

Harkless: Eight on a 1-to-10 scale. The Warriors brought him in before the 2012 draft and liked what they saw; he went No. 15 to the Orlando Magic.

Edge: Harkless.

Baggage

Crowder: He has played for six different franchises. All four teams with which he finished the season reached the playoffs. Considered a team player eager to do the dirty work, there are no red flags.

Harkless: He has played for four different teams, reaching the playoffs only with Portland. Though a bit more was expected from a near-lottery pick, coaches and teammates seem to appreciate him. No red flags here, either.

Edge: Even.

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Measurables

Crowder: Thirty years old, 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, 6-9 wingspan. Made $7.8 million in final season of a five-year, $35 million contract.

Harkless: Twenty-seven years old, 6-7, 220 pounds, 7-2 wingspan. Made $11 million in the final season of a four-year, $42 million contract.

Edge: Even.

Overall Edge

Harkless, by the thinnest of margins -- mostly because he’d be easier to sign.