For once, the Charlotte Bobcats were able to bring in one of the biggest names in NBA Free Agency this summer as they signed center Al Jefferson. There were plenty of people who weren’t high on the signing as a long-term move for the Bobcats, but there’s no denying the fact that Jefferson is going to help Charlotte be much better this season.
Last season, Bismack Biyombo was Charlotte’s starting center the majority of the time. He played 52 percent of the team’s minutes at the position. However, Biyombo was pretty terrible and inconsistent last year. In 80 games he averaged only 4.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 27.3 minutes per game while shooting only 45.1 percent from the floor and 52.1 percent from the foul line.
In stark contrast to Biyombo, Jefferson put up great numbers for the Utah Jazz at center last season. In 78 games he averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 33.1 minutes per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor and 77 percent from the free throw line.
There’s really no debating the fact that Jefferson is a much better offensive player, particularly given the rest of the Bobcats roster. Kemba Walker is a player who could be extremely dangerous in the pick-and-roll, but was limited last season because his pick-and-roll partners like Biyombo were awful making plays off of the roll. In fact, Biyombo averaged just 0.65 points per possession and shot just 31.7 percent from the floor in the pick-and-roll. Jefferson, however, averaged 1.01 points per possession and shot 52.5 percent from the floor in the pick-and-roll.
Jefferson also has an advantage over Jefferson in just about every other offensive set as well. The only real argument that people can summon about Jefferson is the fact that he’s well-known to be a sub-par defender, which won’t help an already putrid defensive team like the Bobcats. Meanwhile, Biyombo was billed as a potential defensive stopper when he came into the league.
The surprising thing about Jefferson is that he’s not much worse than Biyombo defensively at all. While Biyombo allowed 0.89 points per possession defensively last season, Jefferson only allowed 0.9 points per possession, which really isn’t a vast drop-off in any way.
It would be foolish to expect Jefferson to completely fix everything that has been wrong with the Bobcats, more or less because there is a laundry list of things not going their way. Having said that, it would also be foolish to believe that this Bobcats team isn’t going to improve with Jefferson in the lineup.