It's one thing to lose at home to the Washington Wizards. That's reason to fume alone, no matter how bad your team is.
It's another thing to be benched for the entire fourth quarter, and even overtime at home in a loss to the Washington Wizards. Especially when you're a former 20-and-10 guy who was counted on to put your team over the top.
Nothing's gone over the top for Al Jefferson this season outside of his temper. Following another embarrassing showing on Monday night, he stormed out of Energy Solutions Arena, declining to talk to the media for the third time in four games.
When [Jefferson] stood during timeouts, he did so far from the team huddle, with his hands on his hips. When the buzzer sounded, he was the first off the bench and into the locker room. And when approached by the media following the defeat, he refused to comment, forcefully waving reporters off with his left hand.
(That's about the only time he's used his left hand this season.)
Rookie Derrick Favors, brought over in the Deron Williams trade, led a fourth-quarter charge with two other rookies (Jeremy Evans, Gordon Hayward) on the floor, which allowed the Jazz to come back and tie the Wizards at the end of regulation. But I don't know what that says about either team, because three rookies can and probably should compete on par with the Washington Wizards while playing at home.
The fact that Favors plays Jefferson's preferred position this early in his NBA career, and that he was traded in essence for Deron Williams, isn't helping. Nor is the fact that Williams was dealt mainly because the Jazz had to start over following the midseason retirement of Jerry Sloan. These are words I wasn't expecting to write last fall, so you can only imagine how Jefferson feels having lived through all this.
That said, this is still a potential 20-and-10 guy, and coach Tyrone Corbin has to find a way to develop some on-court chemistry between the defensive-minded Favors, and the smooth-scoring Jefferson. The plan moving forward is to start both and force Paul Millsap into the small forward position at the beginning of next season, but I'm sorry -- that's a terrible idea.
The problem is that Favors, as he matures and grows, is probably best suited for the power forward slot, a position that matches his height. The same goes for Jefferson, Millsap and Evans -- who has put up fantastic marks at that position this season. You don't usually find solutions to these problems on the court. Rather, you pick a power forward and go with it.
The problem is, who? All have their merits, and though Jefferson is upset right now, at some point the repeated sub-.500 seasons are going to get to him. He's still not completely recovered from the torn ACL he suffered a few years back, and it's obvious he doesn't have the mobility to play center defensively. Favors does, and it would seem to me that running both at the same time would be the way to move forward, for now.
Any permutation, though, is far from a 60-win answer. Shocking, for a team seemed so ready to jump into the Lakers' and Spurs' strata last summer.
- Washington Wizards
- Al Jefferson
- Deron Williams