Culture of Hoops

Al Jefferson: Top 3 fantasy basketball center

Image courtesy of Pkantz/wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Pkantz/wikimedia Commons

We’ve seen a bunch of surprises up to now in the NBA during the 2013-14 season, and of course fantasy basketball teams and owners have been affected. One of the teams which surprised the NBA world, is the Charlotte Bobcats. The most surprising player, the one who has impressed any fan who is tracking his numbers and those who watch him play, is Al Jefferson. The 29-year-old center is recording a breakaway season and at the moment he has fairly earned his title as a top 3 center for your fantasy leagues. In fact, maybe Big Al is even better than the top 3.

Of course, this might come as a surprise to lots of people around the league, since Al Jefferson is not a megastar. Of course, he has always been respected for his contribution to the teams he has served. Nonetheless, in regards to fantasy value, Jefferson is simply dominant this season. The 6’10” big man is averaging 21.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.2 BLKPG and 50.4 FG%.

Jefferson has a tremendous connection to the basket. Really, he can score almost any way possible. He can shoot the contester jumper from close or mid-range. He can also use his size and post moves to score close to the hoop. In fact, Jefferson is one of the best offensive players in the post. In a way, Jefferson has lots of similarities with David West. Both of them are relatively short for their position, but thanks to their force and their superb moves, they manage to be lethal close to the rim. Although he is not a great passer, averaging a mere 1.5 APG through his career, this season Jefferson has managed to improve in that sector, too, dishing out 2.1 dimes per game.

The truth is that, as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, Big Al is recording a much better season than the one he had with the Utah Jazz last season. In fact, this is one of the most productive seasons of his nine-year career in the league.

At the moment, Jefferson is battling with DeMarcus Cousins, Joakim Noah, and Dwight Howard for the top spots of the center spot fantasy-wise. Cousins is considered as a top center, averaging 22.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG and 48.6 FG%. He is the leader of the struggling Sacramento Kings and he is recording arguably the best season of his career. Although he had some ups and downs earlier in the season, it seems that after the Rudy Gay trade, when the Kings got their final roster formation, Cousins has adjusted to his new role and he is delivering with consistency. He is a double-double machine.

On the other hand, Joakim Noah is also playing at terrific levels, much like the entire Chicago Bulls team this season. Noah was positively affected by the Luol Deng trade and he has been a big factor in the Bulls’ success. Chicago was expected to tank after the misfortune that hit the team, when Derrick Rose suffered yet another season-ending injury. However, they have managed to sustain a great course and Noah has been one of the core reasons for that success. The center is averaging 12.0 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 1.4 BLKPG, and is shooting 48.3 percent from the field.

Of course, Dwight Howard still ranks above him when it comes to fantasy value, although his free-throw percentage kills him, as usual. Superman is averaging 18.9 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.8 BLKPG and 59.0 FG%, while shooting free-throws at a 55.1 percent rate.

Big Al has certainly made lots of fantasy owners happy, as he is over performing. Considering that he was not thought of as a top-notch center prior to the start of the season, those owners who chose to take the risk and drafted him can definitely smile right now. He has been delivering much better than the centers who were expected to be the best.

The Charlotte Bobcats are continuing to cruise all the way to the playoffs and could chase a better seed than the seventh, the one they currently occupy. So we could see Jefferson further improve his outputs by the end of the regular season and of course, he should be expected to play big during the playoffs. Big Al will lead the Charlotte Bobcats against one of the best teams in the East. If they finish at the seventh spot, they will meet either the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat.

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