HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We believe in freedom of speech here at the hideout, and not just the spirit of the phrase but in actuality.
We don’t keep one of those penalty jars for curse words on a counter. Say what you think and we’ll work on the rough edges.
We do, however, have limits. And I must admit that I crossed the line during a recent conversation.
While debating the merits of Al Jefferson over Carlos Boozer as the low post catalyst for the Utah Jazz, someone informed me that Jefferson’s numbers on losing teams don’t compare the stats Boozer put up in a winning situation in Utah the last six years.
I snapped. Seriously, I lost it.
When told that solid numbers on a bad team mean nothing, I couldn’t hold my tongue. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Jefferson’s work during his final season in Boston and his three seasons in Minnesota all speak to the talent he has honed during his six NBA seasons.
It’s not his fault he’s been on bad teams in rebuilding situations at every stop. But to assume that his numbers (Jefferson was a 20-10 man during his three seasons in Minnesota and has career averages of 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) are meaningless on a bad team is not only an insult to my basketball sensibilities, it’s also downright foolish.
We’re not talking about craft metrics here, we’re talking about rock solid numbers. In his past three seasons Jefferson’s numbers cannot be disputed — he went for 21.1 and 11.7 his first year in Minnesota, 23 and 11.1 in his second year there and 17.1 and 9.3 in just 32.4 minutes (nearly five fewer than the year before and his lowest per game average of minutes since his second season in the league).
Minnesota GM David Kahn didn’t hide the fact that Jefferson was on the trading block last season, which no doubt colored the way he was used in an offense ill-suited to his skill set. Moving on to Jerry Sloan‘s outfit, where he and All-Star point guard Deron Williams will pick-and-pop opposing teams into oblivion, couldn’t have come at a better time or be a better fit.
Toss in the fact that Jefferson is genuinely giddy to be a part of a playoff operation and you might be able to understand why it shouldn’t be difficult to forecast big things this season for both Jefferson and the Jazz.
If nothing else, the Jazz should be just as good as they were when Boozer (one of the handful of 20-10 guys in the league the last three years along with Jefferson) was patrolling the paint.