Hawks' Crawford more than just a scorer

Sure, they already knew he could score with the best of them. He is, after all, one of just four players in NBA history to score 50 or more points with three different teams, joining legends Wilt Chamberlain, Bernard King and Moses Malone in that elite club.

But they had no idea he was such a gifted passer and tenacious defender as he's shown in the first hours of training camp.

It's those two surprising traits, in addition to Crawford's ability to score in bunches from virtually anywhere on the floor, that are expected to make his transition a smooth one.

"It's the same feeling we had after our first practice when Mike [Bibby] got traded here," Marvin Williams said. "The previous point guards we had were guys that were more conservative and guys that were just trying to get the job done. Just like Mike, Jamal has that flash to his game that you don't really appreciate until you're out there with him.

"You can be out there on the floor looking at that crack in the defense and wondering if he sees it and the next thing you know, the pass is hitting you in your hands. Or in your face, if you're not careful. That's when you realize you're out there with a guy that's on a different level."

Crawford has made a conscious effort to show off the other parts of his game to make sure his new teammates and coaches understand that he's capable of so much more than just scoring.

And it's working. He is drawing raves from around the floor.

"If you're watching him in practice, it's almost like he's coasting because he makes it look so effortless," Al Horford said. "You can tell he's trying to come in and get used to everybody and he doesn’t want to step on anyone's toes or anything. But by all means, he can score whenever he wants to and we need that."

There will be a time and a place for his shot. Crawford is well aware of that. Right now, blending in is his top priority.

"This team went to the second round of the playoffs and won 47 games and all those guys are back," Crawford said. "So it's not like there's a whole new group and we've all come in here together. But they make you feel welcome here, from the players to the coaches to the front office and even the people on the street.

"Seriously, it's weird the vibe you get from people. I'm sure the last couple of years, it's been about getting to the playoffs. But all I'm hearing is championship. People expect us to take that next step. And I don't think they brought me here just for the regular season. I think they brought me, and all of us new guys, here to help this team go further. So we're going to be ready."

That means playing the role of set-up man in practice and finding unsuspecting teammates with passes they might not expect from a guy with a reputation as a consummate scorer.

"Me playing with him, the comfort zone is basically automatic," Horford said. "He has such a great feel for the game that he just makes you look good on the receiving end of his passes. People have to respect him because if they don't, he'll destroy you. He can score at will. That's what he can do. But if the defense challenges him, he can make the great passes, too."

It all looks good to Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who said the matchup possibilities with the 6-foot-5 Crawford are endless.

"We all look at Jamal as a guy that can score the ball and there's no doubt, he's as good as you can get in that respect," Woodson said. "But he's a much more dynamic player than that, as is [rookie point guard] Jeff Teague. And the sooner the rest of our guys figure out how they can play off of these guys, the more dangerous we'll be."

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