Jamal Crawford says Derrick Rose is one of the NBA’s best guards.

Despite non-stop criticism and statistical proof that he is no longer one of the game’s best guards, the former NBA MVP has a huge supporter in his former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Jamal Crawford.

During an interview with Scoop B Robinson, the three-pointer sharpshooter argued that Rose still does things easily on the basketball court, which is why he is still one of the game’s elite guards:

“His athleticism is still there,” Crawford told Robinson. “He’s still as fast as any guard out there. He would have some practices where he’d just dominate and get to the lane at will, hit shots, hit mid-range shots and floaters, all the reasons people love him. And he can do all those things. He would just run back so nonchalant, like I could do this whenever I want. He didn’t say that, but his play was so easy for him, so I think that’s something he’s going to show more this year and people will be pleasantly surprised.”

Crawford also didn’t contain his enthusiasm for playing alongside Rose. They became teammates last season when Rose signed with the T-Wolves in March after being out by the Utah Jazz following a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While he only made nine appearances during the regular season, averaging just 5.8 points per game, it was during the postseason when his play came alive.

During the five-game series loss to the No. 1 seeded Houston Rockets, Rose averaged 14.2 points per game on 50.9 percent from the field and 70.0 percent from beyond the arc. It’s not a stretch to say he was the best player on Minnesota during that first-round playoff series.

“It was unbelievable for multiple reasons,” Crawford told Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson on Scoop B Radio. “Number one, he was already one of my favorite players ever, one of my favorite people ever. For a bigger star, he’s as genuine as anyone I’ve ever met, so you root for a dude like that. So before we even played together, I was already a fan of his. He’s one of my favorites. And then, to see him every day, to see his talent, to see his work ethic, he’s the perfect example of being in situations where people believe in you.”

“[Tom] Thibodeau believed in him and gave him that opportunity when people were writing him off. Maybe he’s not exactly the same as he was when he was 22, but he’s still better than so many guards out there, and he could show it. Playing in Minnesota and playing in the playoffs, he reminded people how good he is. Personally, I was just so happy, and I expect big things from him this year as well.”

Rose re-signed with the T-Wolves for one year and $2.3 million. Considering the team doesn’t have championship expectations and he’s playing a well-cemented sixth man role on a team already featuring three stars ahead of him on the pecking order, Rose should find a very comfortable spot in Minnesota moving forward.

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