Al Jefferson talked about how Deron Williams said he was going to make him an All-Star, and how he was going to fulfill his end of the bargain. Al Jefferson talked about coming in and making a difference. Al Jefferson sounded like the model off-season addition.
Then Al Jefferson showed up at 280 lbs. Which is, you know, kind of a lot.
Salt Lake City Tribune beat writer Brian T. Smith has been all over that story, and got the explanation Friday on why Jefferson’s a bit tubbo. Apparently, Al felt he was getting beaten up as a slender power forward, so he and Kevin O’Connor decided that bumping up to 275 would help him. Jefferson just overshot a bit, and that 5 pounds is quickly coming off during sprints.
Having heard the explanation, it really does make sense. Jefferson’s often criticized for his lack of defense and rebounding. And while there are plenty of good post players at 265, with Jefferson’s style, it’s possible adding the extra weight could genuinely help him out. The question now is if those hamburgers around his belly will slow him down in the pick and roll and in the post, where his agility was a huge asset for him. He needs to improve defensively in order to get to the next level.
But he can’t afford for his offense to dip. Jefferson’s walking a tightrope. We’ll see if he slips off the rope. But I can’t imagine Jerry Sloan will allow for him to keep the weight on if he’s struggling. And by allow, I mean “won’t physically run next to him for miles and miles and miles.”
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.