The Bobcats’ Al Jefferson, as he’s been throughout his career, is being vastly underrated. An afterthought signing in last summer’s free agent market, Jefferson is now proving his worth.
Before getting into Jefferson’s numbers, let’s all remember for a second that the Bobcats were supposed to be terrible this year. They won 28 games combined the past two years and were once again picked by many to finish near the bottom of the NBA. Even with the signing of Jefferson, there was just no way that the ‘Cats were supposed to contend for the playoffs this year.
Jefferson had other plans.
Since signing a three-year, $40.5 million deal and battling through some early-season ankle injuries, Jefferson has been a monster for the 35-38 Bobcats.
The 29-year-old center is averaging 21.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He’s shooting 50.7 percent from the field while registering a PER of 22.6. The Bobcats as a team have gone from 93.4 points from a season ago to 96.4 now, and are scoring 4.4 more points per 100 possessions with Jefferson on the court (via 82games.com).
His greatest value to the Bobcats has come in the win column, as Charlotte has begun the season 35-38, good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Jefferson consistently draws a double team, leaving guys like Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal open on the perimeter.
“No one on the planet can guard him,” Brooklyn forward Paul Pierce told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “We tried to double him. Single, triple – there’s nothing we could have done with him tonight. He was in that type of zone, and that’s the way he’s been playing.”
With this kind of team improvement, and Jefferson’s outstanding play, does he have a shot at the MVP award?
In a different year, maybe, but what Kevin Durant is doing with the Oklahoma City Thunder is nearly impossible for anyone to match. This shouldn’t discount what Jefferson has done, as he’s poised to lead the Bobcats to just their second ever playoff appearance.
Jefferson has been great for Charlotte, and should be in the conversation for MVP, but ultimately won’t win the award.