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BOSTON—I want # 7 back. No, not Trot Nixon or J.D. Drew but “Big Al” Jefferson. He has not donned a Celtic Green uniform since the end of the 2007 season. In case you forgot, he was part of the blockbuster Kevin Garnett deal that helped the Celtics win Banner 18, one that up until that juncture, had been eluding them for 18 seasons. He began to establish himself in Minnesota, having a career year in 2008-09 when he averaged 23.1 points per game. He stayed with the Timberwolves for three seasons before heading out west to Utah to join the Jazz. Although his numbers have decreased slightly, he still is very productive and will be a hot commodity when he hits free agency this offseason. Here are my four reasons why he belongs in Celtic Green again.
1. He’s young: This is certainly a bonus. Al is 28, and in the prime of his career. When you consider the age of Boston’s primary big man ( Kevin Garnett, 36), this is certainly a bonus. Can Garnett still play? Yes, but if the Celtics elect to go through a rebuilding phase, Jefferson is definitely a more viable long-term option.
2. Potential familiarly with the coach: The word “potential” is being used here because Doc Rivers may not be around next season. His name has been brought up to fill the Brooklyn Nets’ head coaching vacancy, and it is very possible that we may see him on a different sideline next year. However, if Rivers decides to stay and if Jefferson came to Boston , he would already have some familiarity with the Celtics’ system which would be a definite bonus and would eliminate error, something that in a potential transition year, there may be a lot of already.
3. Now there would be weapons: Remember the 2006-07 season when nothing could bounce Boston’s way, and they finished 24-58? “Big Al” was a bright spot on that team and made a positive contribution averaging 16 points per game to go along with 11 rebounds. He averaged a double-double, and that was on a bad team. Now, look who the Celtics have. The speedy Rajon Rondo, the slashing Jeff Green, the never-quit attitude possessed in Avery Bradley. Boston has many more weapons for him to produce offense through. Rondo and Bradley could pass. Green could provide lobs. The possibilities are endless. In addition, if Jared Sullinger came off the bench, the big-man duo would be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Rebounding ability and stamina: The Celtics ranked second-to-last in rebounds per game (31.3) only to the Miami Heat (30.4) He could be an asset with his size (6-10) and his ability to log minutes. Last year, he was first on the Jazz in minutes played per game with 33.1. Having a young body who can log a lot of minutes and where rest is not as crucial (in comparison to let’s say Garnett), would be an excellent asset to have in a transitional phase, having that one guy that you can count on to log big minutes for your team.
It will be interesting to see what Boston ends up doing this offseason. This roster may look a whole lot different come October.