Top 50: Al Jefferson, no. 25
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So much potential. So close to finally realizing it. For all intents and purposes, that should just about sum up Al Jefferson’s relatively brief stint in the League thus far.
Things, however, figure to be different moving forward.
The six-year veteran appears poised to tap into his seemingly untapped inner NBA All-Star this season and transform himself from a player who’s been labeled as someone with tremendous upside into one of those cats that needs be reckoned with on a nightly basis.
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.
The future, however, has never looked so promising. Think about it, Jefferson won’t be wasting away in basketball exile with the Timberwolves in Minnesota. An offseason move to Utah assured that much, and could be the fresh start he so desperately needed.
All that’s left is for him to prove his true worth.
It’s not as if Jefferson hasn’t showed glimpses of a well-rounded game in the past, on both ends of the court, mind you. He spent his first three years in Boston, the final of which was an eye-opener for everyone. He took advantage of extended minutes with Celtics, and as a result, finished with averages of 16 points and 11 rebounds a game.
Not surprisingly, he landed himself a lucrative deal with Minnesota for his efforts. Back-to-back seasons with averages of more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a night followed, although an injury curtailed what was shaping up as a breakout ’08-09 campaign. Last year, he played well, but falling out of favor with the ‘Wolves brass didn’t help matters.
Enough about Jefferson’s journey to this point though. Let’s take a look ahead at how he fits into the grand scheme of things with the Jazz. After all, that’s most important.
All signs point to him being fully recovered ACL surgery, meaning he’s a double-double waiting to happen once again. Can’t forget to mention that he’s just 25 years old, perhaps that‘s why many believe there‘s room for growth. Who knows how good he can be…
With Carlos Boozer long gone in Chicago these days, Jefferson will play a major role for the Jazz. All signs point to him being the main man in the middle. And make no mistake, Deron Williams will make sure to get him the ball early and often in games. Once Big Al acclimates himself to the pick and roll way of things are done in Salt Lake City, watch out.
There’s no reason to think that he’s not fully capable of putting up some quality numbers once again. Averages of 25 points and 10 rebounds per game are lofty totals but not out of the question for Jefferson. Months from now, when the All-Star Weekend makes a pit stop at Staples Center, we could be talking about an individual who’s finally figured things out.
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• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
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