Commentary: Al Jefferson’s Poor Start Could Be A Blessing In Disguise
A few nights ago, Jazz starting center Al Jefferson was deplorable in his first game of the season. Before we get into analyzing the plays that created such disfunction, lets look at the actual numbers that were, for lack of a better word, produced. In 25 minutes, Jefferson was 2-16 from the field, had no trips to the free-throw line, was rejected three times, and grabbed 10 rebounds. After the game, he explained his difficulties to reporters as being due to the “basketball Gods” failing to keep him company.
By the start of the fourth, Jefferson sat on the bench. The Jazz’s leading average scorer and rebounder last season had his right knee heavily wrapped, his face was in his hands and he was 2 of 16 from the field…after the Jazz struggled through exhibition play and entered the regular season searching for everything from a true No. 1 player to a team identity, [Jefferson] acknowledged the blowout to the Lakers was a wake-up call.
“No need to panic. We know what we got to do…We just had to be better than what we was. It’s a wake-up call, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Hmm, okay. Interesting comments coming from a performance that came against an exhausted and thin Lakers front line playing its third game in three days. Jefferson was 0-9 on shots at the rim, against the likes of Troy Murphy, a banged up Josh Mcroberts, and Pau Gasol. Truly remarkable stuff.
I despise overreaction from bad games in the singular, but taking Al Jefferon’s situation a step further, he may be the most talented player who we see traded by the deadline. Despite being ever so slightly undersized at the position, Jefferson has carved a place among the league’s giants as one of the more talented in the group. He’s due $14 million this year and $15 next, so it’ll be incredibly difficult finding an overeager buyer, but for any team looking for a normally reliable offensive option in the post to slow their pace down once the playoffs roll around, Jefferson is the absolute perfect answer.
The rebuilding Jazz should be more than thrilled to move him for two reasons: 1) The contract isn’t fun for a small market team, and 2) Jefferson’s departure will open up much more playing time for youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Two nights ago when he went up against Nene in Denver, Jefferson’s decent game went overshadowed. Nene scored 6 more points on one fewer shot, and was absolutely monstrous down low, going a perfect 8 for 8 on shots at the rim. Not exactly the type of rim protection the Jazz were looking for. Meanwhile, Jefferson took a team high 6 shots from 10-15 feet (no other teammate even had 3) and made just 2 of them.
According to Synergy, through two games Jefferson is attempting half of his shots from post-ups, and is making just 29.4% of them. With a player as good as Jefferson, this obviously won’t keep up. But watching potential suitors open up for his services should be an interesting sub-story as this already insane 2012 season continues to develop.