How Jefferson Addresses The Need
Throughout the Bobcat's franchise history, not once has there been two dependable big-man playing side by side in the Queen City. Even on the 2010 playoff team, the best option down-low was Boris Diow who averaged a mere eleven points and five rebounds a game. Respectable numbers, but not the production a typical team would hope for from their best big-man. Now, for one of the first times in franchise history, the Bobcats have a solid center who scores and rebounds with great proficiency in Al Jefferson. Jefferson can be paired with rookie Cody Zeller to create a nice combo between the four and five position. This looks great on paper, but the real question is whether or not the two can work together to complete what the Bobcats are hoping for: a prolific paint combination. (Hint: It won't.)
Why Jefferson Isn't A Good Fit
- Financially: While Al Jefferson is a productive NBA center, I have doubts that he's worth 41 million dollars over just three years of play, especially because it appears as if the Bobcats aren't going to be making a playoff run this season. It's not that close to fourteen million dollars a year is too much to pay for an all-star caliber center, instead it's the timing. Basically, Charlotte is paying Jefferson a grand sum of money to be part of a team that isn't going to accomplish anything this season. Sure, it's great to have a dependable center like Jefferson, but it doesn't make much sense why you would pay him this year. There are plenty of solid centers on the market in 2014 when Charlotte will be looking to make a playoff run. Greg Monroe and Demarcus Cousins are just two examples of free agents on the market after next season, which would save the Bobcats almost fourteen million dollars this year.
- Near Future: If the Bobcats expect to create a flawless one-two punch between Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson, they will be mistaken. On offense, the two could create a nice scoring balance, but the defensive side of the court real is the issue. Jefferson hasn't displayed the quickness nor foot-speed to keep up with NBA centers, thus widely considered as a poor defensive center. In addition, Jefferson only averaged 1.1 blocks per game last season, ranking tied for 24th in the league in that category. Like Jefferson, Zeller's strong-suit isn't defensive. Zeller does posses the quickness and speed to keep pace in the NBA, but isn't physical nor strong enough to be a dependable defender at the four slot. While the duo could work offensively, many sacrifices will have to be made on the defensive end.
- The Future: Personally, how Jefferson fits into the Bobcat's future plans is the biggest issue I have with the move. First off, Jefferson is already 28 years of age which raises some questions on how many years he really has left, especially for a team that is looking become playoff material for an extended period of time after the rebuilding stage is completed in a year or two. It's very doubtful that Jefferson will be the same player in three or four years from now when the Bobcats will contend in the Eastern Conference. I understand that the two sides only agreed on a three year deal, but it still doesn't make much sense to sign him amidst the rebuilding process when the team won't be a serious contender. Obviously, Jefferson isn't the long term fit the Bobcats really need.
- Other Players: In addition, the presence of Al Jefferson in Charlotte could hurt the development of both Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo. With Jefferson, Zeller might not receive the touches or opportunities he would otherwise, thus hindering his future development. By adding Jefferson, we now can conclude that the Bobcats do not believe that Biyombo is their answer at center. While he certainly didn't show that he was deserving of that position during his first two years in the NBA, Bismack is still very young and has an abundance of potential. I would have given the Congo native one more year to showcase his true abilities.
- Draft Picks: With three first-round picks likely in the Bobcat's bag for the incredibly strong 2014 NBA draft, the Jefferson move doesn't make much sense. With the addition of the former Utah Jazz star, the Bobcats are theoretically lowering their respective pick while leaving no room for an incoming big-man. When the Bobcats do draft a center next year, he will be likely be put on the bench and won't receive the opportunities needed in his respective development process. Once again, the timing of this move makes little sense.
The Jefferson addition simply doesn't fit not only in the next couple of years, but also for seasons to come. The Bobcats will regret signing Al Jefferson.