Thursday, July 22, 2010

Richard Jefferson 2.0

Who is Richard Jefferson really?  And how does he fit in the offense?  I might not be the first to say that I'm not sure Richard Jefferson fits very well.  Nonetheless, he's here, for just shy of $40 million over 4 years.  Yikes.  Wait, he's 30?  I thought we were going younger.  Yikes.  Or maybe not quite so yikes.  Last year the Bucks unloaded Richard Jefferson for Kurt Thomas, Bruce Bowen, and Fabricio Oberto, of the three, they only kept Thomas, waiving Bruce Bowen (who pretty much retired) and Fabricio Oberto (who went on to a mediocre season on the Wizards).  Essentially, Jefferson was to be a Bruce Bowen upgrade/replacement.  Perhaps not quite as refined or established defensively, but someone definitely more athletic and more dynamic on the offensive end.  Unfortunately, what we will dub as year 1 of the Richard Jefferson experiment failed with rather dismal results.  Jefferson averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists with less than a steal and block per game on 46.7% shooting and 31.6% from beyond the arc.  So how can he fit into the team?  Can he?

Sebastian Pruiti has convinced me that he can.  Jefferson has always been a player known for his explosiveness, much of his successful career in New Jersey may be attributed to playing with Jason Kidd in his prime years, but a lot of people have noted that he is something of a Vince Carter clone, less some of the IQ.  As age catches up to everyone, including Jefferson (who is now 30) it takes away a lot of the athleticism that players once boasted in their mid-20s.  The Tim Duncan we saw run the floors in 1999 now has shaky knees and has a hard time getting lift.  The Manu Ginobili of 2003 is now wiser, but also more fragile.  Likewise, Jefferson, who once had great athleticism, needs to adapt his game.  He has never been known as a wily player, and certainly we're not expecting him to suddenly become a crafty ball-handler in the like of Stephen Jackson.  However, Jefferson and the Spurs need to come to an agreement on how he can work with the rest of the Spurs.

With the addition of Tiago Splitter, I can definitely see Pop going into a lot of his older sets, now that there is something of a legitimate post presence next to Duncan once again.  Depending on Splitter's mid-range game, Pop may go to the low-post/high-post game that Pop used to run with Duncan and Robinson.  Generally speaking, when that happened, the remaining three players (Avery Johnson, Sean Elliot, and Mario Elie) would generally spot up around the perimeter for kickouts.  Times are changing though, the three players probably out there now are Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Richard Jefferson.  The kickout option becomes less attractive as Parker and Jefferson aren't spectacular spot up shooters.  They're serviceable, but spot up threes are not really their game.  I don't know a lot about basketball plays, but I would surmise that off-ball screens and cuts would probably be the most effective.  While we like Timmy in the low post, I know that he is an highly underrated passing big-man, and running him as a passer out of the high-post (a la Chris Webber) could be a very effective means of getting Jefferson involved in the offense.  Not to say we have to run this all the time, but it's plays like these that I think Jefferson can definitely work with.  That being said, Jefferson needs to get his head in the game and keep alert for opportunities.  Last season he had a tendency to get lost in the offense, hopefully, that doesn't happen as much this year.

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