First off, congratulations to Al Jefferson. A consummate professional who has done nothing but be an upstanding citizen to the city of Minneapolis. One of my favorite players, who has done nothing but lose, now has a chance to go to the playoffs, and play with the best point guard in the NBA.
Al Jefferson has been the cornerstone of the Minnesota Timberwolves' offense. If anyone was a fan of the NBA back in the day, he's the perfect example of low-post basketball at it's finest. He will be great in a Utah under coach Jerry Sloan.
I will now analyze the good and the bad for both teams.
Minnesota Timberwolves and the Utah Jazz
The Minnesota Timberwolves have just lost 20 points and 10 rebounds. They have also lost a legit 2nd or 3rd best option on a championship caliber team. Al Jefferson provided the Wolves with a player that could get his own shot regardless of the competition. He's a low-post beast, and an obvious elite big man in the NBA. While those are hard to come by, Al Jefferson wasn't a perfect model post man.
His defense on the other hand, was abysmal. His defensive awareness is at the very bottom of the chopping block. While he can block some shots one-on-one, he's horrible on rotations and defensive reaction. Losing him only helps the Timberwolves with that problem, seeing that he rarely get's back on the defensive end.
I do think that there could be some improvement in that area when he heads to the Utah Jazz. After all, Jerry Sloan's reputation as a coach and motivator speaks for itself. While everyone talks about how the Utah Jazz improved by adding, there's also the case of addition by subtraction.
The Minnesota Timberwolves added two first-round picks, and were relieved of Al Jefferson's contract. The Minnesota Timberwolves' highest paid player is Michael Beasley, who's on a rookie contract. This puts the Wolves in a great situation to trade at the deadline with the Carlos Boozer trade exception that was obtained. The Wolves also have more assets to make other moves.
One of the biggest additions is that Kevin Love is now the undisputed power forward that will start or the Minnesota Timberwolves.
His numbers as a starter are great. Please consider:
15.3 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 32.4 MPG.
This came without competent point guard play, horrible defensive efforts with him and Al Jefferson and learning the Triangle Offense.
In my opinion, I'm not exactly sold on this trade for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But for the Utah Jazz, it's a great move. They now have a low post beast, one in which they can take pressure off of Deron Williams. That in itself is a great improvement, he in my opinion is an upgrade over Carlos Boozer.
As far as the upside from Al Jefferson, his peak is 25 points, and 12 rebounds a game. Not much more than what he can do, and he probably won't reach that peak. But his efficiency and defense can improve.
If the Jazz weren't a playoff team, it would be a bad move. Since the Jazz lost Boozer, it's a great move.
As far as the Minnesota Timberwolves, looking at a front-court rotation of Darko Milicic (7'1''), Nikola Pekovic (6'11''), Kevin Love (6'10''), and Michael Beasley (6'9'') gives the Wolves low post scoring, outside shooting, and the ability to run the fast-break and block shots.
It could prove to be an even better move for the Wolves if:
- A: The Wolves use the trade exception to pry away a player before the trade deadline.
- B: Kevin Love makes the All-star team
- C: The Timberwolves improve, the consensus is looking like 30 wins.
- D: If Al Jefferson messes up the Utah Jazz (unlikely).
Thanks for reading!