Richard Jefferson is getting ready to start his first, and maybe last, season with the Utah Jazz. Utah acquired Jefferson in a move that allowed the Golden State Warriors to offload several large contracts for this season. Jefferson will hope that coming to a relatively inexperienced team will allow him to prove he is still an asset to an NBA team. Over the last two seasons, most of that with the Warriors, Jefferson’s minutes and production have plummeted. Will coach Tyrone Corbin‘s preference for veterans over inexperienced players result in big minutes for Richard this year?
Jefferson’s place on the Jazz has been overlooked by many Jazz fans, who have made up their mind that he’s “washed up.” It’s a reasonable thought process; Jefferson only played about 10 minutes per game last year, making even Alec Burks feel utilized, and his three points per game signal his declining usefulness. However, the Jazz roster is relatively thin at small forward, making increased minutes a possibility. Add to that the fact that Marvin Williams, another SF, will start the season recovering from surgery and it becomes increasingly plausible Jefferson will get what could be his last crack at NBA relevance.
The demise of Jefferson’s career may be overblown to some extent. Yes, he is 33 years old and, yes, he had a very disappointing season last year, but there is also reason to believe he can help a team like Utah, which may have limited offensive options. If Jefferson can rebound from last season and regain some of the production from the one or two seasons prior, Utah may have a relatively efficient scorer on their hands. Jefferson may only need to embrace a role as a spot-up 3-point shooter, which he has had the tools for in the past. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Jefferson shot around 43 percent from 3 on around four attempts per game. Randy Foye‘s success with the Jazz last year indicates that not much more than precision shooting is required to secure a spot in Ty Corbin’s rotation, but Jefferson will have competition with shooters like Brandon Rush and Ian Clark fighting for minutes as well.
Jefferson likely won’t be worth the $11 million he is owed this season, but if Jazz fans disregard his salary they may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Best case scenario for Jazz fans may be that he performs well enough to be traded at the deadline for future assets, while worst case is likely what many Jazz fans are already expecting.