Fantasy Basketball 2014: Al Jefferson, We Are Not Worthy
The only thing bigger than him are his fantasy totals.
Coming into the 2013-14 season, Al Jefferson was one of the most talked about players in fantasy basketball. Heading from Utah to Charlotte offered plenty of opportunities for Jefferson to return to his 20-point, 10-rebound ways.
Thus far during his inaugural year with the Bobcats, he certainly hasn’t disappointed.
In 32 games this year, Jefferson is averaging an impressive 18 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and one steal per contest. He is one of the hottest centers in basketball as of late, too. During the month of January, he is averaging 20.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a steal per game. And over his last five games, his numbers are even better, sporting a slash line of 26.2/11.4/2.4/1/1.4. He has three double-doubles during that span, and his solid 15 ranks 21st in the NBA. Big Al is absolutely dominating lately, and if you look at some of the numbers, it’s pretty easy to see why. Sure, he’s obviously an immense talent at the center position, but he has a few things guiding his fantasy success.
You know, there are so many great point guards in this league, that’s it’s difficult to keep track of them all. Because of this, young guys like Kemba Walker tend to get overlooked.
Not by me, he won’t.
Through 41 games, Walker is averaging career-bests in points (19), rebounds (4.3) and field goal percentage (.424). However, it’s his dynamic playmaking ability that catches my eye the most. He is only averaging five assists per game, but has really made Jefferson’s job easier this season. He is averaging about six drives per game this season, which opens up Jefferson in the paint if Walker gets by the opposition, which, in his case, he does more than often because of his elite speed and athleticism. Walker touches the basketball more than any other player in the NBA, averaging 101.3 offensive touches per game. However, he also passes the basketball more than any other player in the league, coming in at 77.4. This opens up so many looks for Jefferson to score points at a higher rate.
Walker is quickly emerging into one of the great young point guards in this league, and Jefferson continues to reap the fantasy benefits. Unfortunately, Walker suffered an ankle injury during Saturday night’s game and did not return. Let’s all the injury won’t force him to the sidelines.
While Walker touches the ball more than anyone in basketball on a per-game basis, Jefferson is no slouch in that regard either. Al is touching the ball about 50 times per game, which isn’t great, but for a big man, it’s reasonable. More importantly, however, it’s about where is touches are coming from. His eight close touches per game rank third-most in the NBA. Those touches are ones that originate within 12 feet of the basket, which is perfect for a player like Jefferson. His appealing looks allow him to score at a high rate, as he’s averaging 0.36 points per touch, which is among the most among players with considerable playing time in the league. And his points per half court touch also rank among the top of basketball.
Of course, with any center, fantasy owners want those rebounds. Well, with Jefferson, a guy averaging nine rebounds per game over the course of his career, you sure get them. His current rebounds per game average of 10.1 is only the fourth-highest of his career, so clearly there’s plenty of rebounding upside here. On the season, Jefferson is averaging a healthy 16 rebounding chances per game, which is the 15th-most in the NBA. He is capitalizing on 63 percent of those rebounding opportunities, which is as fairly high number. And when you consider that 6.8 of his rebounds per game are uncontested, it shows that not only is he getting plenty of rebounding looks, but he’s also getting plenty of good looks. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are shooting just 42.7 percent from the field as a team, which is the third-worst in basketball. That will allow Jefferson to continue to see plenty of chances to grab boards.
Obviously, there are tons of numbers here. I mean, I am a fantasy guy, after all. And while all of these numbers play a contributing factor in the monster year Jefferson is putting together, you have to just stop being a nerd and understand that he is also simply playing at a very high level.
Phat Al, y’all.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.