Is Al Jefferson a top 3 center for your fantasy team?
We’ve seen a bunch of surprises up to now in the NBA during the 2013-2014 season and of course, fantasy basketball teams and owners have been affected. One of the teams which surprised the NBA world, in a positive way, is the Charlotte Bobcats and the most surprising player, the one who has impressed any fan who is tracking his numbers and those who watch him play, is Al Jefferson. The 29-year old center is recording a breakaway season and at the moment, he has fairly earned his title as a top 3 center for your fantasy leagues. In fact, maybe Big Al is even better than the top 3 and especially during some stretches of the season, he can be considered arguably as the top option at the center spot.
Of course, this might come as a surprise to lots of people around the league, since Al Jefferson is not a megastar. Of course, he has always been respected for his contribution to the teams he has served. Nonetheless, in regards to fantasy value, Jefferson is simply dominant this season. The 6’10” big man is averaging 21.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.2 BLKPG and 50.4 FG%. Surprisingly for a player of his size and bulk (he weighs 290 pounds) he is also a solid three-point shooter, shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Although he rarely takes jumpers from downtown, when he does, they usually go down.
Jefferson has a tremendous connection to the basket. Really, he can score almost any way possible. He can shoot the open but also the contester jumper from close or mid-range. He can also use his size and post moves to score close to the hoop. In fact, Jefferson is one of the best offensive players close to the hoop, inside the post. He is one of those centers who although they are slightly undersized, at least when it comes to height, they can use their power to outmuscle their opponents inside and score easy baskets. In a way, Jefferson has lots of similarities with David West. Both of them are relatively short for the center position but thanks to their force and their superb moves, they manage to be lethal close to the rim and even against the best opposing big men in the league. Although he is not a great passer, averaging a merely 1.5 APG through his career, this season Jefferson has managed to improve in that sector, too, dishing out 2.1 dimes per game.
The truth is that, as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, Big Al is recording a much better season than the one he had with the Utah Jazz last season. In fact, this is one of the best, the most productive seasons of his nine-year career in the league.
At the moment, Jefferson is battling with DeMarcus Cousins, Joakim Noah and Dwight Howard for the top spots of the center spot fantasy-wise. Cousins is considered as a top center, at least when we are talking about fantasy basketball. The controversial big man is averaging 22.3 PPG, 11.5 RPB, 1.2 BLKPG and 48.6 FG%. He is the leader of the struggling Sacramento Kings and he is recording arguably the best season of his career up to now in the league. Although he had some ups and downs earlier in the season, it seems that after the Rudy Gay trade, when the Kings got their final roster formation, Cousins has adjusted to his new role and he is delivering with consistency. He is a double-double machine.
On the other hand, Joakim Noah is also playing at terrific levels much like the entire Chicago Bulls team this season. Noah was positively affected by the Luol Deng trade and he has been a big factor in the Bulls’ successful course up to now in the season. Chicago was expected to tank after the misfortune that hit the team, when Derrick Rose suffered yet another season-ending injury. However, they have managed to sustain a great course and Noah has been one of the core reasons for that success. The Frenchman center is averaging 12.0 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 4.8 APG and 1.4 BLKPG while he is also shooting at a 48.3 percent rate from the field.
Of course, Dwight Howard still ranks above him when it comes to fantasy value, although his free-throw percentage kills him, as usual. Superman is averaging 18.9 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.8 BLKPG and 59.0 FG% while he is shooting free-throws at a 55.1 percent rate.
It’s now obvious why Big Al is considered as a top three center. He is such a versatile player, that he does anything his rivals do, scoring, rebounding, shooting at good rates, blocking shots and he does it with perfection. In fact, Jefferson is fairly considered as one of the most versatile big men in the league, the most versatile one. He has certainly made lots of fantasy owners happy, as he is over performing. Considering that he was not considered a top-notch center prior to the start of the season, those owners who chose to take the risk and drafted him can definitely smile right now. That’s because he has been delivering much better than the centers who were expected to be the best ones this season.
The Charlotte Bobcats are continuing to cruise all the way to the playoffs and in fact, they could chase a better seed than the seventh, the one they currently occupy. So we could see Jefferson further improving his outputs by the end of the regular season and of course, he should be expected to play big during the playoffs. Big Al has the veteran experience and the abilities to achieve a great course during the post season. In fact, he is expected to continue and lead the Charlotte Bobcats, who will definitely not have an easy task matching up against the best teams in the East. Especially if the Cats finish at the seventh spot, the will meet either the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat and this matchup will be extremely difficult.