Last season Charlotte had the sixth ranked defense in the NBA.
That was in spite of Al Jefferson, not because of him. Every night teams worked hard to draw Jefferson out into pick-and-roll situations — especially at the end of games — because it was a weakness to exploit, and every night Charlotte schemed to cover him. It was a dance. Most nights it worked out for Charlotte.
But Jefferson doesn’t want that to be the same story this season — he is promising not to be a liability this season.
“I refuse to continue to keep getting picked on at the end of games. It’s not fun….Last year at the end of games teams always put me in high pick-and-rolls. I got sick of them thinking that was to their advantage, and it was to their advantage….
“There’s a reason (teams pick on his defense) – I’d pick on me too,” Jefferson said. “So I want to take the challenge to get better at that so it’s not an option they always go to. And they do go to it, so I’m culpable.”
He’s saying all the right things. That’s great.
However, after 10 years in the league, I’m not going to expect too much. Jefferson’s defensive habits and liabilities are pretty ingrained at this point.
Still, if Jefferson can just improve some it would be a big boost for Charlotte — a Hornets team that added Lance Stephenson, a guy that is going to help them on the defensive end.
Keep an eye on Charlotte this season, I think they take a step forward — and they will be a tough out come the playoffs.