Chris Crawford was maybe one cut away from not making the Hawks' roster this season. Now, it's hard to think where the Hawks would be without him.
The quiet forward from Marquette was the 51st player taken in the 1997 NBA Draft, and was the second-lowest player taken in the Draft to make an opening day roster.
Coach Lenny Wilkens saw enough of him in limited action last season, and in camp this season, to hang onto him.
It's a good thing he did.
When LaPhonso Ellis was lost for the season with a hernia, Crawford was stuck into the starting lineup at small forward and immediately responded, averaging almost eight points a game in his 30 starts.
He had nine points in Game 1 of the Hawks' first-round series against the Detroit Pistons, and had six points in the early going of Game 2. But he fell on his shoulder on a tip-in just three minutes into that game, slightly separating it and putting him out of action for the remaining three games of the first-round series against Detroit.
He returned in Game 1 of the second-round series with his best game ever, scoring 20 first-half points, and 26 overall, in the Hawks 100-92 loss to the New York Knicks. He's averaging 13.7 points a game in the playoffs, hitting 52 percent of his shots and almost 85 percent of his free throws.
If the Hawks are to pull this series out, they'll need Crawford's contributions, especially because the injury bug has sidelined forward Alan Henderson, too.
Can Crawford help the Hawks get to the Eastern Conference final? One thing's for sure: They wouldn't have made it this far without him.