Just like everything else around the Charlotte Hornets, Al Jefferson was not as good last season as he had been the season before.
His knee issues led to a regression on the defensive end (or a return to the norm, if you didn’t buy the 2014 season). His shooting percentages slumped as well, particularly inside 10 feet where he got 64 percent of his looks (he shot 63.9 percent inside three feet and 44.5 percent from three to 10 feet, both down from the season before). This was one of the reasons the Hornets fell out of the playoffs.
Jefferson told Adi Joseph at the Sporting News the real problem last season was the lack of floor-spacing shooting around him.
“I think people don’t realize, 3-point shooting is what makes me who I am,” Jefferson says in that same training camp interview. “Last year, we didn’t have 3-point shooting. That’s why guys were able to sit down on me. I didn’t have it. Now we have guys who can spread the floor and make shots. Teams have to pick and choose their spots. You double me, bang — we’ve got an open shot. So having shooters around is music to my ears. That’s what lets me do what I do best.”
The Hornets went out and got Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin, both of whom will see heavy minutes on the wing and can knock down the three. Along with a healthy Kemba Walker, the floor should be better spaced for Jefferson, who has dropped weight and should bounce back to being devastating with his old-school game when he gets the ball on the left block. The Hornets should be scoring at an improved pace this season.
The question is what their formerly-solid defense will look like without the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.