Al Jefferson Not the Answer for Philadelphia 76ers

By Robert White
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadephia 76ers may look to replace Andrew Bynum this offseason, but would throwing money at soon-to-be Utah Jazz free agent center Al Jefferson be an even bigger mistake?

When news broke on Monday that Bynum was having further surgery to clean out both of his troublesome knees, it became apparent the Sixers had made a grave mistake in trading away Andre Iguodala for Bynum. While Bynum may never play a game for Philly, replacing the one-time All-Star with Al Jefferson could be a mistake the team regrets for years to come.

Jefferson is having a pretty decent season– 17.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game –and would offer the Sixers some consistent size and skill that hasn’t been seen at the center position in that town dating back to the Allen Iverson era. Of all the guys that suited up in the low block for Philadelphia in recent years, from Sam Dalembert to Spencer Hawes, Jefferson tops all of them, but his shortcomings are rarely mentioned.

Jefferson would give the Sixers an All-Star level option on the offensive end. He scores at a solid clip (around 50 percent), draws immediate defensive attention, and double teams and produces when the game is on the line. Sharing a front court with a number of talented and young players has seen his production slip slightly from where it could be, but Jefferson would do wonders for Philadelphia’s offensive despite not being a commendable athlete.

That athleticism, or lack thereof, is the reason Jefferson to the Sixers would be a disastrous signing. Jefferson is slow and his lateral movement is laughable. Opposing teams kill the Jazz in the pick-and-roll and Jefferson is a key target for speedy point guards looking to break down the Jazz defense. Jefferson’s inability to step out on opposing point guards as they come off screens means the Jazz are routinely destroyed by point guards with quickness and an eye for the open man.

It seems unfair to tear apart Al Jefferson for being a poor athlete, however, Philadelphia has struggled stopping opposing team’s enough already in 2012-13 and adding Jefferson and his pathetic defensive skills has the potential to ruin what is already a sinking franchise.

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