Al Jefferson’s In-Season Improvement

March 10th, 2011 | by K.Malphurs

Yesterday, Al Jefferson scored 34 points on 71% shooting and won the game on a tip-in at the buzzer. This was another impressive recent game from the Jazz power forward. Following Jefferson this year there have been two main things that have stuck out:

  1. How much better he has played without Deron Williams?
  2. How there seems to be a reverse correlation between how Jefferson is playing and the Jazz winning?


Looking at the first point here are some numbers to consider:

  • In the 8 games after Williams was traded, Jefferson has scored 28 points a game on 60% shooting.
  • In the 57 games he played with Williams he averaged 17.4 points per game on 48% shooting.
  • His average game score (a Hollinger metric used to judge a player’s productivity in a game) went from 13.7 per game with Williams to 23.5 without Williams.

In the pre-season Williams told Jefferson that he was going to “make him an All-Star.” It is early, but if he continues at this rate then Williams would have fulfilled that prediction by leaving.

Below is a graph where I took Jefferson’s game score and average them out in five game buckets. For example the first bucket (games 1-5) shows Jefferson’s game score average of 13.5. The last bucket (games 61-65) shows Jefferson’s game score average of 23.1.

There is definitely an upwards trend that graphically represents Jefferson’s impressive streak lately. However, as Jefferson has improved the Jazz have been losing more and more. Below is a breakdown of the number of wins in those same 5 game buckets:

Unfortunately Al Jefferson’s improvement hasn’t resulted in wins. That doesn’t mean that Jefferson’s good play is preventing the Jazz from winning. There could be many other factors affecting the Jazz ability to win. I assume the Jazz optimist will look at Jefferson’s recent play as a positive, while the Jazz pessimist will think Jefferson is one of those players that only plays well on bad teams. Time will tell if Jefferson is a good player stuck on a bad team (think Ray Allen in Seattle) or an overrated player who only puts up good stats on bad teams (Shareef Abdur-Rahim).


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