I can never decide if I think Al Jefferson is young or old, which probably means he’s the exact right age for an Al Jefferson type. I know that’s a super Chuck Klosterman-y sentence, but bear with me. You wouldn’t expect a guy who is in his eighth season to be only 27-years-old, so that seems surprisingly young to me. On the other hand, he’s got a bit of the Odenface, where you look a lot older than you really are. It’s mysterious.
Anyways, Al Jefferson has been in the league forever, playing for a couple bad teams before ending up in Utah, who are threatening to become a bad team. But that doesn’t mean he’s stopped learning. Just look at this brilliant discovery he made last night after following a career-high 7-assist game by dropping another five dimes. From the AP:
“Hey, it’s taken me eight years to realize that if I pass the ball outside and guys hit open shots, it helps free me up,” Jefferson. “I guess better late than never.”
Don’t worry about it, Al — that’s just one the basic tenets of building an NBA team. It’s why the Magic surround Dwight Howard with shooters and why everyone always says the Bulls need a low post scorer, which are things that people only talk about all the time. No big deal that it only took you eight seasons to catch wind of this. As you said, “better late than never.”
To be fair, Al hasn’t had the benefit of playing with very many good 3-point shooters. Paul Pierce was the best shooter he played with in Boston, and even though he has a 3-point contest title, no one thinks of him as a pure shooter who opens things up for big guys. In Minnesota, it was Mike Miller and Ryan Gomes, both of whom are fine shooters but are also still Mike Miller and Ryan Gomes. Maybe he didn’t know about the whole “shooters help big guys” thing because he was never in a situation where that was the case.
Not surprisingly, since Al came to this startling realization, he’s posted the best assist rate, lowest turnover rate and highest assists per 36 minutes of his career. It’s like this abstract passing and having guys make shots concept really works. Plus, if he plays his cards right, he could end up in the Skills Challenge. With this newfound knowledge, I think he could stand a chance to win. #LetAlPass