Allen Crabbe is in China. That’s a long way from his home in California and from the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s over there to do some business, including visiting LeSports Hong Kong—a company that provides users with video services including webcasting, video-on-demand and additional information on football, basketball, tennis, golf and other sports—and the NBA China offices. He’s also there to experience something different, made possible by the roundball.
“If it wasn’t for the season that I had, then opportunities like this wouldn’t be possible,” Crabbe says through a crackly phone call from near Hong Kong. “I’m just blessed to be in the position for the types of doors that basketball has opened for me to go to places that I never thought I would be. It’s been an exciting experience.”
Crabbe’s contributions this past season go deeper than his 10.3 point per game average. He established himself as a legit scoring option for the Blazers’ second unit, doing more than just spotting up in the corner for catch-and-shoot threes. He was a leader for the bench and he ran pick-and-rolls with the rock in his hands. The Blazers averaged 0.75 points per possession when he ran the classic play, a more than respectable number.
He also showed no fear in the Blazers’ biggest matchups. He dropped a career best 26 on the Cavaliers and 20 on the Warriors in the Playoffs in their house.
“Golden State, that atmosphere and just playoff basketball, man,” he reminisces. “You’re playing at the highest stage now and that’s where you’re really supposed to show and come up big for your team. Unfortunately we got eliminated. It was on a bigger scale. Everyone around the world was able to see that.”
With that performance, the 24-year-old gave the world a preview of things to come and also provided reason for his new four-year, $75 million deal. Not bad for the 31st pick of the 2013 Draft.
Crabbe’s a core part of the Blazers youth movement. His team is centered around Damian Lillard, 26, and CJ McCollum, about to be 25. Those are the certified bucket-getters for Portland, but the Blazers are a “team” in every sense of the world.
“The organization did a good job after losing four out of five starters,” Crabbe says. “They went out and got a core of young guys. They got a bunch of guys around the same age and have the same interests in a lot of things. It’s easier to hang around people like that. The interests and things that you really like to do off the court, it’s easy for everybody to hang out together. We realized that team chemistry off the court could really help us in the long run on the court. Obviously that’s what showed for us in the Playoffs.”
Crabbe also brings up the run that his squad went on in February, when they reeled off a 9-2 record, which served as a statement to the League that the Blazers were looking to win.
They did more winning than anyone thought they would. They were 44-38 and made the second round of the Western Conference. Winning gets you recognized more than anything. Crabbe’s time on the world stage has him getting recognized on a world stage.
“People know me out here,” he says about the Chinese. “It’s not like I’m coming out here and people are just starting at me like who are you? For them to know certain stats about you and what team you play for, especially when they point out little things, when they’re like, ‘I remember what you did this game.’ It’s cool how they follow us out here.”
He could make even more of an impact with a different fanbase if he ever hopped on #4BarFriday, the social media movement that Lillard started where the nation’s aspiring MCs share a few quick lines. But you’re more likely to see Crabbe in the gym than in the booth.
“I don’t know, I don’t think that’d be for me right there,” Crabbe says with a laugh. “I definitely do follow it, though and listen to all the talented people that go on there that share their bars. It’s definitely good.”
The fact that he wants to be in the gym, though, tells you all you need to know about the now-$75 million man. It’s definitely good.