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Just The Sports: Why Jared Jeffries?

Just The Sports

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Jared Jeffries?

Isiah Thomas the coach I was able to defend, but Isiah Thomas the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks I cannot. His desire to not make a sensible, rational basketball transaction is still running strong as evidenced by his signing of restricted free agent Jared Jeffries to an offer sheet for what will probably be the mid-level exception, $30 million over 5 years.

The problem with the signing of Jeffries is that there is very little Jeffries can do to improve the Knicks. Jeffries has a repuation as a defensive stopper and while that may be true, as a result of the kind of defense he plays, he is unable to make his teammates around him better defensively. In the three seasons he played a significant amount of games in a Washington Wizards uniform, the Wizards were near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency. Also, Jared Jeffries does very little defensively in the way of creating turnovers and blocks and because of that his defensive rating has been above the league average during his tenure in the NBA.

To maximize his defensive ability, Jeffries needs to be placed on a team who is already good defensively. When placed on a team where defensive play is an afterthought, like the Knicks, Jeffries may play good defense, but it will not translate to his teammates. In essence, Jeffries is a defensive role player and the kind of player who can be on bad defensive teams and good defensive teams without changing the way he plays defense.

A prudent question Thomas should have asked himself before he signed a fellow former Hoosier is if the contribution Jeffries will give him on the defensive side of the ball will outweigh the fact Jeffries approaches scoring the way I approach making up my bed: I do it so rarely as to make no difference at all. The answer to that question is probably no since Jeffries has had a negative PER rating for the past three seasons, meaning his opponents have outproduced him in most facets of the game.

Unless the Knicks can find a way to allow Jeffries to dominate more possessions on defense, then any contribution he makes to the team will be minimal.

If the Wizards do decide to match the Knicks' offer and they most likely will if for no other reason than maintaining roster stability, then this write-up becomes a moot point, but until then, it is still relevant.


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