Friday, October 07, 2005


Player Preview - Al Jefferson

(This is the last one of these prediction things. We'll have some kind of season preview on Tuesday)

We all know the deal with Big Al. He has been publicly tagged as “franchise savior” and the entire hopes of the Ainge rebuilding plan are resting firmly on his shoulders. Ainge has made a number of good draft choices and interesting acquisitions, but none have the potential to turn the franchise around like our own #7 (or is it #8?). This year should go a long way to exposing his limitations and defining his ceiling. I think it’ll be a high ceiling, but this season could be full of growing pains.

Sugar Free Kool-Aid

Undeterred by missing training camp, Big Al trounces all comers for the starting spot during the preseason and never looks back. Doc tries to split his minutes with Scalabrine, but it becomes clear by the end of November that you don’t sit a potential 20/12 guy in favor of a honkey-stiff’s many “intangibles.” Although occasionally plagued by foul trouble, he notches his first 30 point game in December and finishes the calendar year averaging 19/8. Doc never makes mention of the fact that he can’t play defense, and when we do here on CelticsDoom we are rightfully scorned by the entire Celtics internet community.

Though he tails off slightly towards the end of the season, he is listed in prominent glossy publications among “the 10 best players you don’t know” and is the subject of feature during a TNT broadcast that has the phrase “Movin’ on Up” splashed on the screen with the theme from the Jeffersons playing behind a highlight reel. Jeff from CelticsBlog and PO meet accidentally in a supermarket and, after a brief uncomfortable accusatory exchange, go on to become fast friends.

Stats 30 mpg, 17 pts, 8.3 rbs.

Worst Case – aka Blount 04-05

With a head swollen beyond all recognition by the off-season barrage of praise and unrealistic expectation, Al enters the season with an attitude of entitlement and is quickly exposed as a talented yet wildly over praised prospect who suffers from limited passing skills and a reluctance to bang for rebounds. Doc says that the starting job is “his to lose,” which he does in mid-December by never playing defense, never passing, and often turning the ball over. Raef and Blount are our starting frontcourt for the rest of the season, and Scalabrine talks openly of his “little buddy” Big Al needing to “re-adjust his brain type with Dr. Niednagel.”

Relegated to about 17 minutes a game, Al comes off the bench for the rest of the season and under-whelms at every turn. We see that he can rebound, but that he’s not really hungry for the ball when it doesn’t involve him trying to score. We see that he can score in the post, but can’t adjust when his defender figures him out. We are treated to ceaseless Doc Rivers post-game jabberwocky wherein we are told that Al is “a ‘power 5’ in a ‘point 3’’s body.” The best anyone can say is “at least he’s nicer than Zac Randolph.” Tom Heinsohn repeatedly states that “this kid is going to help the Celtics a LOT in the long run.” CelticsDoom compares him unfavorably to Mike Sweetney and we are wrongly scorned by the entire Celtics internet community.

Stats 18 mpg, 9 pts, 4 rebounds.

CelticsDoom Prediction

Injured in the pre-season, Big Al struggles with Doc’s inept effort to work him into the lineup and balance minutes among the 6 (hundred?) mostly mediocre big men we have on the squad. “He has to earn his minutes,” Doc fumes to the post-game media scrum when queried as to why he keeps him sitting during crucial points in the game. We see quickly that Al excels when plays are run for him, but struggles on offense when he doesn’t get his touches. He thinks he can score on every possession and too often tries to do just that. He demonstrates a nice touch for blocking shots, but also shows signs of not knowing how to play defense without fouling.

Mid-way through the season he finally hits his stride and turns into a dependable 13/6 guy as a starter. We start to understand that he will not be a frighteningly dominant super-power forward a la Amare Stoudemire, but that he’s definitely destined to be a cut above the Boozers, Goodens and even K-Marts of the world. CelticsDoom will harbor the lingering suspicion that he is a better-hyped Mike Sweetney but we will keep it to ourselves. PO will tell me at some point, “dude, he’s like 20 years old, relax.” Smart people will say he’s three years away from being a 20/10 guy and they will be right.

Stats. 27 mpg, 12 pts, 6.3 rebounds, 48% shooting.

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