Blog Entry

Al Jefferson Era (7/31/07 - 7/13/10)

Posted on: July 19, 2010 7:43 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 8:08 pm
Al Jefferson has been traded to the Utah Jazz for two future 1st round picks, one of which originates with Memphis and the other with Utah. As is protocol with the vocal majority of disillusioned Wolves fans, the initial reaction was one of shock, terror, self-pity and rage. Now that we’ve had a few minutes to digest the deal, let me offer six reasons why dealing Jefferson in the fashion they did is not in fact the catalyst for Armageddon as it may have originally been portrayed.


1. If David Kahn could have got more for Jefferson, he would have. Dealing Jefferson within the division signals that Kahn was merely looking for the best return. Utah presented that. Those who complained about not trading Jefferson for someone like Andre Igoudala or Danny Granger or Josh Smith or Kevin Martin are forgetting one vital component: trading requires two willing parties. The market on a given player is only what someone is willing to pay, and clearly, the market for Jefferson wasn’t exactly booming.

2. In Al Jefferson’s three seasons as the focal point of the offense the Wolves won 22, 24 and 15 games, respectively. It’s hard to justify dedicating 25% of your cap to a guy who can’t, even by sheer force of will, get the team to 30 wins. Put any true star (in other words, someone worthy of eating a fourth of your payroll) on the worst team in the league and they still get 30 wins.

3. Al Jefferson is only 25 years old but has already run up a notable injury history. Nagging injuries in Boston were one thing, but tearing his ACL two seasons ago put him on a whole different level. I’m not saying players haven’t come back from ACL tears, but guys his size, who were already heavy footed to begin with, typically don’t get healthier with age.

4. With Kevin Love , Michael Beasley and even Nikola Pekovic on board the Wolves have several talented pieces that can replicate, if not exceed, Al Jefferson’s contribution to the team. They are younger, cheaper, possess more upside at this point and bring a more versatile game to table, or rather court.  

5. Kurt Rambis claims to utilize a system that breaks down to roughly 70% uptempo attacking style offense and 30% Triangle. The former requires big men to be agile and able to run the court. The latter requires a focus on accurate and timely ball movement and a keen sense of the overall scheme. No matter how you slice it, Al Jefferson is not a good match for this system.

6. Al Jefferson, though still young and already having demonstrated impressive skill for such a young age, has failed to improve notably on areas of weakness within his game. The same knocks he had three years ago he still has today. Poor defensive awareness, apparent unwillingness to share the basketball and/or inability to pass out of double teams, and so on. Even the most adamant defenders have to admit that he seems to have plateaued. In fairness, some of this is due to an unimpressive surrounding cast. Some of it is surely due to ineffective coaching. Without question, some of it can be attributed to the ACL tear. All of that aside, when it comes down to it a player eventually has to answer the naysayers and Jefferson has not done this. In failing to do, the crowd of naysayers has grown even more. Now go back to #1 and the part about his market value.

    Let me close by saying that I don’t mean this to be a slash and burn job on Jefferson now that he isn’t a member of the Wolves anymore. Far from it. I’m a big Al Jefferson fan and I am glad he will finally get a chance to win. What he does, he does extremely well. I challenge anyone to name five better offensive low post players in the entire league. On top of everything, he seems like a genuinely good guy and so he’s easy to cheer for.

    I’ll liken this trade to the rare instance of breaking up with a girlfriend on legitimately good terms. You know, she’s really cool and in another time and place maybe she could have been the one. But personally, emotionally and spiritually you’re headed in one direction and she’s headed in another. Neither in bad directions, just different. You’ve outgrown each other. Truthfully, you probably should have ended this awhile ago but things were cool so you rode it out, hoping the ship might right itself. In the end, you saw this coming but at least you gave it a fair shake. Many say it, few mean it. We still want to be friends.


Since: Apr 18, 2008
Posted on: October 15, 2010 11:44 pm

Al Jefferson Era (7/31/07 - 7/13/10)

I have heard Jefferson is horrible passing out of double teams, and that would make sense what you are saying about the triangle offense.
I love your posts.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  You offer more insight on the Wolves than anything I can find in our horrible Minneapolis and St. Paul papers.  You should help those folks out down there.  I would rather pay to read your analysis than the Star and Tribune.  Please do another draft preview.

Since: Apr 10, 2008
Posted on: July 19, 2010 10:00 pm

Al Jefferson Era (7/31/07 - 7/13/10)

"Kahn is getting piled on by national and local medias all over the NBA"
- This phenomenon will likely be the subject of my next blog.

"The biggest difficulty with this is that given the sequence of moves Kahn may have gotten less than he could have. I think the league knew that Kahn pretty much had to move Jefferson, given all those additions, and so while his demand may have been the same, his perceived supply was way down."
- I think even the most casual NBA fan who has any knowledge of the Wolves knows that one half of the Jefferson/Love duo was getting dealt this offseason. Exhibit A was probably the fact that Jeff and Love were hardly allowed to play together this past season. Adding Beasley was done only after they had reached the point of no return with Jefferson so I don't think that impacted any negotiations or leverage. The Wolves would have wanted a high quality impact wing player back for Jeff and there are only maybe two or three guys in the league that fall into that category and at the same time aren't so good that they're untradable. It didn't work with those teams and so cap space and picks were the next best thing.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: July 19, 2010 9:39 pm

Al Jefferson Era (7/31/07 - 7/13/10)

My immediate non-considered gut response:
1. The biggest difficulty with this is that given the sequence of moves Kahn may have gotten less than he could have. I think the league knew that Kahn pretty much had to move Jefferson, given all those additions, and so while his demand may have been the same, his perceived supply was way down. So the return wasn't what it may could have been.
2. Spot on. I really like Jefferson a lot, I think he's an awesome fit for a lot of teams (I wonder what Houston thinks of him) that play more set system, and with his incredible he could be a key cog for a team. 
3. Yeah. Not Stoudamire worrisome, but worrisome. 
4. This is the real gamble. Kahn is getting piled on by national and local medias all over the NBA. I wonder what actual NBA team executives privately think of what he's done. If it works, and they have a dynamic young core that can win or at least be significantly competitive (not talking the playoffs yet, but being exciting and able to win more games than last year), Kahn should get all the credit in the world. 
5. I really wonder about Utah's fit with Jefferson, considering their Achille's Heel with Boozer was a lack of interior defense. That doesn't improve considerably with Jefferson. Big Al can certainly block more shots - his 1.7 bpg average a couple years ago was really good - but I wonder if that goes down with his injury. Jefferson fits well in a set offense with a big-time athletic defender next to him. By the way, the Bulls being the Jazz East idea obviously has merit with three of their players, but the big difference - and why I think the Bulls will be better than Utah - is what Noah can do on defense. 
6. I just made up the idea of Jefferson being the big-man equivalent of a Ben Gordon (pre-Pistons): limited in overall game but extremely useful by having one or two plus-plus skills. Never a centerpiece but absolutely a vital part to a winning team. 
Who wins more games this year: Bulls or Jazz? I say Bulls. 

Great article.

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