Why Is Al Jefferson So Unpopular?


Charlotte Hornets fans hate Al Jefferson, but why?

As I was reading this interesting article on Bleacher Report about what the Charlotte Hornets should do with Al Jefferson, I saw a poll on the side asking readers what they thought. Of the 815 votes registered, over 43% said that the Hornets should trade the big guy during the summer.

That is amazing that so many Hornets fans want Big Al gone. All he has done since arriving in Charlotte is lead the team to the playoffs and make third team All-NBA. The guy shoots over 50% from the field in his career, and grabs 10.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. Those 20 and 10 players do not grow on trees in the NBA, and yet Jefferson is a perennial candidate to hit that mark.

His defense is also good. In the 2014-15 injury plagued season, he still put up 3.4 defensive win shares while averaging 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes. Contrast that to a guy like Bismack Biyombo, a noted inside defender, who put up just 2.2 defensive win shares this last season.

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Jefferson is a post-up nightmare for other teams, and still scores easily on the block despite often being double or triple teamed. His teammates cannot shoot, with the team last in the league in three point percentage(including a guy who set the NBA record for worst three point shooting percentage ever for a guy who took at least 100 attempts), and yet Big Al is still effective.

So why the hate? Is is the style of offense that he prefers, the slow it down, grind it out pace employed by head coach Steve Clifford that makes watching the Hornets the visual equivalent of going to the dentist? I can sympathize there. Even fans sometimes groan after watching the team stop what looks like a promising fast break opportunity to walk it up and throw it in the post.

Worse still, that style makes it impossible to score when Jefferson leaves the game. Now there is no shooting, no post-game and no easy baskets. We are forced to endure a steady stream of bricked mid-range jump shots, knowing that an offensive rebound is probably our best hope for points.

Still, is that all on Jefferson, or should we be looking at the coach? In his last season in Utah, the Jazz were 13th in the league in points scored and 12th in field goal percentage. Clearly it is not his fault that the team does not score.

Perhaps the dislike comes from Jefferson’s presence practically guaranteeing another mediocre season with no hope to be at either the top or bottom of the league standings? Everybody knows that finishing ninth is the worst spot to be in the NBA. The perennial wasteland of teams that are good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but not good enough to get past the first round.

Dealing Jefferson might be seen as the best way to improve the team. He is their best player, after all, and a guy of his quality in the last year of his contract would be an attractive asset to plenty of teams. However, most likely he is only coveted by teams that are already in the playoff chase, and thus any potential draft pick would be late lottery at best, which is exactly where the Hornets are already picking.

Maybe trading Jefferson gets a strong perimeter player in return? A guy that can knock down shots and create plays for himself and his teammates. Its possible, but if the guy is really that good, no team is trading him for a one year veteran rental like Big Al.

The final possibility is that fans want the big guy gone just so this team can plummet down the standings and land a top five pick, again. That being really bad is better than being just OK, because being bad comes with the chance to draft the next league superstar. Its a valid point, but teams that hit the lottery every year might argue with you.

In fact, just look at Charlotte and the fact that they have five top ten picks on their roster, including the number two and number four overall selections and yet this team is still not in the playoffs.

Exactly why this city hates big Al Jefferson is a mystery to me. So I ask the readers out there, what do you think of the big guy? Should he be traded? Do you hate watching him play?

Next: Three Reasons To Trade Up