Al Jefferson: Savior or Setback for the Charlotte Bobcats?

Peter AndreuContributor IAugust 7, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 11:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Al Jefferson #25 and DeMarre Carroll #3 of the Utah Jazz at Philips Arena on January 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There's no denying that the Charlotte Bobcats have had significant trouble landing big-name free agents over the past 10 seasons. Al Jefferson provided a sense of relief for fans and ownership alike when he signed a three-year, $41 million deal this summer with the Bobcats. Jefferson is a 6'10" center who averaged 17.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG last year with the Utah Jazz. Both statistics would have been team highs on the Bobcats. 

Did this huge signing for the Bobcats come at the wrong time?

The 2014 NBA draft is considered by many to be the strongest since 2003—a class that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. If next year's draft is anything close to 2003, there's some satisfaction to tank this season. Another year for Charlotte at the bottom of the standings could potentially land this year's prized possession, small forward Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is considered a game-changer offensively with superstar ability and he hasn't even played a single game for the University of Kansas.

The Bobcats are by no means a team guaranteed to finish better than the bottom five in the league, but the signing of Jefferson provides a go-to scorer with great offensive low-post presence—something the team tremendously lacked last season. Is the opportunity to improve this team this year with Jefferson more important than what could have come in the future with a practically guaranteed spot in the lottery?

Charlotte potentially could have three first round picks for the 2014 draft, according to The Bobcats have the Portland Trailblazers Top-12 protected pick and the Detroit Pistons Top-8 protected pick, along with their own. Three lottery picks in an extremely talented and deep class is almost unheard of. That sort of fortune could dramatically change the Bobcats, especially if they have the chance of landing that No. 1 overall pick.

Charlotte still is a very young team, and only time will tell what this group will be at season's end.