Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap signed contracts with their new teams this week. And based on the insane disparity in those deals (Millsap got $18 million over two years from the Atlanta Hawks, while Jefferson will make $41 million over three years with the Charlotte Bobcats), it's clear that executives around the league haven't been watching many Jazz games.
Put simply, Millsap is a better player than Jefferson. Not convinced?
Take last year as an example: In 2012-13, Jefferson posted an offensive rating of 104.1. Millsap's was 105.4. And on the other end, Jefferson's defensive rating of 107.6 was worse than Millsap's 105.5, per NBA.com.
And in 2011-12, Millsap's net rating (basically a pace-adjusted plus-minus figure) was plus-4.2 points per 100 possessions. Jefferson's was only plus-3.2, per NBA.com.
Nobody's claiming that Millsap is vastly superior to Jefferson; the margin is relatively slim. But the fact is that the numbers show Millsap to be a more valuable player than his former teammate. And anecdotally, it was surprisingly easy to notice last year the discrepancy between the two players.
Millsap was a steady, two-way contributor for the Jazz. But opposing teams relentlessly exploited Jefferson's pathetic pick-and-roll defense at every opportunity. Because of his total inability to compete on defense, Jefferson's impressive array of black-hole offense wasn't enough to make him a break-even player last season.
There might be a case for paying Jefferson and Millsap equally. But there's absolutely no way to justify giving Jefferson more money.
Unless you're the Bobcats, I guess.