NBA Preseason 2012-2013, Game 3:
Utah Jazz (1-1) @ San Antonio Spurs (2-0)
Player Focus: Al Jefferson
I seem to be infatuated with Jefferson right now. He's supposed to be our best offensive player, and as a result, he needs to be put into situations where his talents are maximized. So far this season the Jazz have failed to do that. And, well, he's also failed to do it as well. He's a traditional back to the basket big. He spent the off-season working on his strength, agility, quickness, all with the hopes that it will give him the tools necessary to play better help defense. We need that. We need to see that.
On the floor in preseason he's shown a great willingness to pass the ball. I've seen that too. And I appreciate it.
But the number one thing for Al Jefferson in the last year of a $15 million dollar contract season is to score points. At least, that's my feeling on the subject. I don't think there's a better scorer on this team right now. You can't live a healthy and balanced life on a steady diet of pull up three point jumpers. We need to score. We need to score in the paint. We need to do it with Big Al.
Enes Kanter has an okay back to the basket game against 3rd and 4th string dudes; but was unable to dominate guys like Eddy Curry -- who was already cut by the Dallas Mavericks. Paul Millsap can do it all, but he's most dangerous right now either on the move or facing up after dribble penetration gets him open. Derrick Favors isn't a primary option and may never ever be one. Jeremy Evans can't establish position down in the paint. Only Al can.
And so far this season we haven't gotten it. Al shot 44.9 fg% in preseason. And he accumulated an absurdly low 1.06 PPS. Okay, so that's only preseason. Fine. But let's not forget he did that in preseason against non-starters as guys like Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins were out. So far this season, aka when the games count, he's getting 11.0 PPG off of 37.5 fg%. A majority of his 9 FGM were face up jump shots. His regular season PPS is 0.92. The league average for the last 10 years was 1.21. He's our best offensive player.
We need Al to get going. And that means we need to put him in situations where he can succeed. So far our offense isn't working the way it should. I'm not saying 'scrap everything and do everything through Al', hardly. I think we can't hinder our growth by holding onto just one idea of how to succeed.
We do, however, need Al to succeed to be that balanced inside/outside team. He'll have a big challenge tonight against the San Antonio Spurs. But just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not worth putting the effort into. IF we wanted to be a team of jump shooters we should have paid Carlos Boozer to stay. No. We need Al. We need him in the paint. And we need to get him the ball where he can score from.
And yes. He needs to make some baskets. You can't fiddle around with the numbers and EXCUSE your first option, best offensive player shooting only 37.5 fg%. He's gotta step it up. Or move aside. We sure as hell aren't playing him for his defense.