Big Al's big role
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - After being blown away in his meeting with the Charlotte Bobcats this past summer, center Al Jefferson said he "couldn't sleep a wink" in anticipation of signing with them.
Excited to join the Bobcats? The team that won just 250 of its 722 games (.346) prior to this season after joining the NBA as an expansion franchise in 2004-05? The team that is run by Michael Jordan, who is as bad at judging personnel as he was transcendent at basketball?
Jefferson owns a $23,000 bed, so if he really was experiencing sleep issues we know it had nothing to do with comfort. Maybe he really was as eager to sign with Charlotte as he said.
The team did give him $41 million over three years with a player option for a fourth and just as importantly provided him with the opportunity to flourish offensively.
Jefferson's minutes haven't changed much from what he played in 2012-13 with the Utah Jazz, his team from 2011-13. He played 33.1 last season and has seen 33.7 this season.
But his shot total has skyrocketed.
Jefferson has attempted 1.9 more field goals and 0.9 more free throws per game than last season and as a result has averaged 19.6 points per game, up nearly two points per game from 2012-13.
According to stats.nba.com, Jefferson's usage rate (the percentage of a team's offensive possessions a player uses when he is on the court) is .287, up there with guys who are constantly handling the basketball like Kyrie Irving (.292) and Stephen Curry (.285). His usage rate last season was .254.
Jefferson's 10.6 rebounds per game are his most since 2008-09 and an improvement of 1.4 per game over last season's average. The 29-year-old had a total rebound rate (the percentage of a team's total rebounds a player grabs while he's on the court) of .164 in 2012-13. This season, it's .177.
The increase likely has been spurred by trading Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors for Josh McRoberts and Cody Zeller as frontcourt teammates.
Jefferson is coming off 10-point game in which he made just 4-of-15 (.267) from the field over 27 minutes, but he was due for a slip-up. He came into the game with 11 straight games of at least 20 points and an average of 28.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in that span.
After some early issues with his ankle, Jefferson has played 35.4 minutes per game and averaged 22.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 0.9 steals and 19.6 field-goal attempts per game in his last 24 games.
On Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, he tied a career high by scoring 40 points to go with 18 boards, four assists and three steals. He fired up 32 shots in 38:44.
Jefferson's high for field-goal attempts in a game last season was 27, and he only heaved 20+ shots in a game 14 times in 78 games. In 2013-14, the center already has attempted 20+ shots 13 times in 40 games.
No wonder Charlotte was so alluring.
02/02 17:15:45 ET