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Old 02-13-13, 10:59 PM
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b1gdon b1gdon is offline
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Here is an interesting and detailed take on Jefferson's potential in Silver and Black. I would post the whole thing, but the take is so good, so I'll give some highlights and encourage you to follow the link. It's a good read. How would Al Jefferson fit with the Spurs?

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What is odd is to hear the Spurs connected to Jefferson. San Antonio has long been looking to pair Tim Duncan with a star center, but Jefferson doesn't really fit the bill. Not necessarily because he isn't a good player - I think Big Al is universally seen as one of the 10 best centers in the league - but because he seems to embody the antithesis of everything the Spurs have become in the Tony Parker-era (read: since the Spurs starting play fast).

Jefferson is the textbook example of a plodding post player. He moves at the pace of a tortoise, uses up a ton of the shot clock just to get in a position to comfortably put up a shot and probably wouldn't make it to centercourt on a number of San Antonio's offensive possessions. Jefferson is used to playing for a Jazz team with close to zero perimeter scoring, which means they must rely on slowing the game down and playing through the post in order to score. That is the polar opposite of the Spurs do. San Antonio wants to get up and down the court as fast as possible, with a fluent and consistent tempo being the most important characteristic of their team.
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For the Spurs to get their money's worth with Jefferson, they'd have to slow their offense down and incorporate his post-up game into their offense in heavy doses. According to Synergy Sports Technology, 49.1% of Jefferson's offense this season has been from post-ups, with no other play type getting more than two possessions per game. He gets about nine post-ups per game and that is not counting plays in which he receives the ball on the block and ends up passing out. That alone would significantly impact San Antonio's pace and would slow them down considerably.

Is it worth it? Maybe. Jefferson is a very reliable post scorer that gets points on about 44% of his post-ups and can be counted on in crunchtime. Jefferson plays almost exclusively on the left block where he loves to put the ball on the ground and then turnover his left shoulder for an effective push shot. Jefferson also likes to face-up towards the basket to unleash his fierce pumpfake to gain an edge on his man. Over the years he has been about to outgrow the "blackhole" tag that was (deservedly) bestowed on him earlier in his career and he has actually become a solid passer that tends to make good reads from the low and high posts. Jefferson has also stabilized his mid-range jumper over the past few seasons and is hitting an above average 41% of his shots from 16-23 feet on the year, all while attempting a career high 5.6 mid-range shots per game. He is also one of the better rebounding big men in the league, pulling down a solid 11.5 rebounds per 40 minutes.
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And we haven't even covered defense. According to BasketballValue.com, the Jazz give up 110.53 points per 100 possessions while Jefferson is on the floor. When he is off the floor, their defensive efficiency drops to 101.21 points per 100 possessions allowed. That means Utah's defense gets nearly 10 points per 100 possessions better when Jefferson is off of the floor. With his net negative value of 9.32 points per 100 possessions on defense, Jefferson ranks as the third worst defensive player in the league by this metric. Jefferson is so bad on defense that, on a per 100 possessions basis, he is actually a net negative for the Jazz that gives up more than he adds back.

Jefferson plays defense in quicksand and teams routinely gameplan to exploit his pick-and-roll defense. Occasionally the Jazz will have Jefferson hedge hard on pick-and-rolls, but doing so provides the opposing ball handler an easy route to the rim, which is why Utah often settles in with the same default pick-and-roll coverage that the Spurs have. While Duncan and Splitter and even Blair can move their feet well enough to contest shooters or to deter ball handlers, Jefferson simply doesn't have the footspeed to do anything but stand there. As a result, ball handlers are shooting 48% against Jefferson in the pick-and-roll. Per Synergy, of the 26 players that have defended pick-and-roll ball handlers on at least 200 possessions this season, Jefferson has given up the second most points per possession. As of right now teams are scoring a point per possession any time they put Jefferson into a pick-and-roll. In case you were curious, the player that allows the fewest points per possession in such situations is Tiago Splitter.
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While this post will come off as anti-Jefferson, I am actually a fan of his game. But for a Spurs team that has thrown their slow, post centric offense by the wayside in favor of letting their perimeter players run wild, and for a team that is already a real title contender? I am not seeing Jefferson as a fit.
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