Boston Celtics Free Agent Target: Al Jefferson
A return to the team who drafted Al Jefferson wouldn’t be opposed by many Celtics’ fans
Al Jefferson, once the 15th overall selection by the Boston Celtics, is currently 31-years old and coming off of a knee surgery. He played two seasons for the Celtics before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett trade. He was later traded to the Utah Jazz a few years later, and then signed a big contract with the Charlotte Hornets. Jefferson isn’t the dominating center he use to be, but he’s still someone the Celtics should take a hard look at.
Jefferson had knee surgery this season, not something you want from a big man on the wrong side of 30. However, he has since returned and has claimed that his knee has not felt this good in over a year. Besides the knee surgery this season, Jefferson was suspended five game at the beginning of the season for violating the NBA Drug Policy. Both of these things will seemingly hurt his market a little this upcoming off-season.
Aside from the knee injury, Jefferson has been relatively healthy throughout his career. He has played in all 82 games two times in his career, and has played in at least 70 games four times in his 11-year career.
Jefferson’s numbers are down by a lot this season due to knee problems, and him being on a minutes restriction once he came back from injury. In only 28 games, he has averaged 12.4 points, six rebounds, and one block per game. His numbers have not been that low since his first two years in the NBA, with the Celtics.
Throughout his 11-year career, Jefferson has averaged a double-double four times, and at least nine rebounds per game four times. In 2013-14, his first season with the Charlotte Hornets, Jefferson compiled a stat line of 21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 73 games.
Jefferson’s best years are behind him, but that doesn’t mean a return to Boston wouldn’t be a good move by Danny Ainge. Jefferson is a true center, who is an above-average rebounder, scorer, and a solid defender. The biggest thing that Jefferson would bring is that he’s someone who sticks on the block down low on offense.
Jefferson has yet to attempt a three-point shot this season, and it’s doubtful he will. 24.7 percent of his shots come from inside of three feet, but 31.9 percent of his shot attempts are from 3-10 feet away. He shoots 41.2 percent from that distance, showing he is a solid option from mid-range.
Big Al was once on one the best centers in the NBA, but has always flown under the radar throughout his entire career. He’s not someone who can lead your team anymore, but his pick-and-roll game has improved this season and he’d be a great compliment to Isaiah Thomas.
Currently playing with point guard Kemba Walker, Jefferson has done well in that situation. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective, which is the type of player the Celtics need. He has shown he is still is able to make an impact on a playoff-caliber team, and would seemingly be even more successful with the Boston Celtics, who have a better all-around team.
Despite Jefferson being on the wrong side of 30, and coming off a knee surgery, he is one of the few true centers left in the league. He can hit a mid-range jumper, but he’s the type of big body the Celtics have searched for.
His price may also be a little lower than usual, due to the previously mentioned reasons. That would allow Boston to still go out and get someone else along with Jefferson. With Boston attempting so many threes, having someone who is a down low force is what they’re looking for. Jefferson is a cheaper option, although doesn’t bring as much to the table as Al Horford or Hassan Whiteside. But it’s hard to find someone as consistent as him year in and year out.