Al Jefferson had a monster year for the Charlotte Hornets this past season. Jefferson joined a Hornet team that had only won 21 games the previous season and was two years removed from only winning seven games in the lockout shortened season, so expectations weren’t very high in Charlotte.
Jefferson was the best low post scorer in the league last year and led the Hornets to a 43-39 record and the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. He was snubbed from the All-Star team, but was honored with being a part of the All-NBA Third Team. The problem here is that Jefferson should have easily made a higher team than that.
Realistically, there was no player in the NBA more important to their prospective team than Al Jefferson. There was no way he was winning the MVP award over Kevin Durant, but the Hornets would have been completely miserable without Jefferson’s presence. His 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game seemed so much bigger when he checked out of the game.
The Hornets’ whole strategy was to dump the ball down low to Jefferson and hope he came out with some points or went to the foul line, and that strategy worked this season. Jefferson was easily the best offensive center in the NBA this last season. Joakim Noah had a fantastic season and there is no question he should have been named to All-NBA First Team, but the same can’t be said for All-NBA Second Team center Dwight Howard.
Al Jefferson had a better season than Howard and made an overall bigger impact than Howard. While Howard spent the season teaming up with James Harden and being the No. 2 option on the Houston Rockets, Jefferson spent his year putting the Hornets on his back.
Howard is generally looked at as the best defensive center in the league, but Jefferson was the starting center on one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. If the Rockets didn’t have Howard, they would have been fine. They still would of made the playoffs and gave somebody a scare. The same can’t be said about the Hornets.
In the end, Howard’s team had a better record, but still was eliminated from the playoffs in the same round as Jefferson’s team. Howard is still an elite player in the league, but Al Jefferson should have had his spot on the All-NBA Second Team.