Al Jefferson named NBA Player of the Month for Eastern Conference

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Big Al gets a nice award for his strong March efforts.

Following a stupendous March in which he averaged 24.7 points and 10.6 rebounds on 55.5 percent field goal shooting over 16 games, Al Jefferson was named the NBA's Player of the Month for the Eastern Conference, accompanying Kevin Durant from the Western Conference.

The Bobcats went 9-7 in this time, strongly led by Jefferson's more than capable right hand from the left block. He had no fewer than 16 points in March, with three games of 30+ points and 12 games with at least 20 points.

In one of his best games, Jefferson shined against the Miami Heat with 38 points and 19 rebounds, but was ultimately outshone by LeBron James' brilliant 61-point performance.

The Player of the Month honor is the first given to a Bobcats player ever and just adds another notch to the great accolades people have bestowed to Jefferson and company as the Bobcats have become more and more noticed as a talented team in the East.

Coupled with Steve Clifford's addition this offseason, Jefferson has helped turn around the Bobcats after recent dark times. By minimizing Jefferson's lacking defensive skills in his defensive schemes, Clifford has utilized Jefferson's best features to become a better defensive unit, not to mention Jefferson's exemplary offensive talents.

The Bobcats were the second-worst team in defensive rebounding percentage last year, but this year are the best in the league. Jefferson's no great rebounder on the offensive end, but his hands on the defensive glass, as well as the rest of the team's commitment of course, have made the Bobcats one of the better teams at refusing second-chance scoring opportunities and preventing offensive rebounds.

Jefferson's ability to be the offensive foundation and interior counterpoint to Kemba Walker on the exterior had huge results in March. Charlotte had the 10th-best offense in March. Having improved outside shooting has helped Jefferson find space in the middle, even if he does often see double-teams. Markedly improved ball movement inside and out has played a big part in the Bobcats' offensive improvement after starting as one of the worst offensive teams in the league. Last month the Bobcats' assist-to-turnover ratio was second only to the San Antonio Spurs, who are currently on an 18-game win streak.

Although the Bobcats haven't managed to have that level of success, they're doing pretty well behind Jefferson's offense inside the arc. They just clinched the second-best record in Bobcats history with their 36th victory. Unfortunately they'd have to win out the rest of their remaining games just to tie the 2010 Bobcats.

But I digress. Jefferson was the fifth-best scorer in the NBA in March, behind only Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and LeBron James. Getting this nod is a tremendous recognition of Jefferson for his nightly efforts, which have been so dependable and highly depended on for the Bobcats' offense.

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