After last season's early exit in the playoffs, the Spurs felt for them to be able to continue to compete at a high level and take advantage of the waning years of Duncan as a Spur, a change was needed.
It was for this reason why they went all out during the offseason and made some drastic moves to hopefully build a team that would allow them to compete for another NBA title. One of the roster moves they made was getting Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas.
At the time, people believed that Jefferson will make a big difference for the Spurs because he brings in some youth, athleticism and offensive fire power at the Small Forward position, something the Spurs didn't have in the past.
Now after 42 games as a Spur, Jefferson is averaging 12.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assist in 31 minutes of action. As the team's third or fourth wheel on offense, these numbers look acceptable but it's important to note that his production dropped to just 10.8 points, 2.7 boards and 1.2 assist in January. Case in point, his performance last night against the Chicago Bulls was atrocious and forgettable.
Looking further for stats, I found out that Richard Jefferson is getting most of his points on jump shots in fact 68% of his shot attempts or on jumpers.
It could mean he is taking advantage of the open looks being created when players like Duncan is being double teamed down low or it may also mean that he is being too passive on offense settling for jumpers instead of taking it to the hole.
The recent drop in his numbers is another reason for worry because and this point Jefferson should be more comfortable with the system and his teammates. Not the other way around.
For the record, Jefferson is a good basketball player but in my humble opinion he hasn't earned his paycheck. Some even played with the idea of trading him before the February deadline and even Jefferson himself agrees that he has underachieved so far.
To be honest, it’s hard to figure out whether the Jefferson trade is working or not. A lot of things need to be considered to conclude such a statement. Besides, the Spurs have not played to a level they would like to be as a unit especially on the defensive end.
But I can say this, Richard Jefferson still has hops and the Spurs need to take advantage of his athletic abilities. Maybe they have to run more often to get more points in transition or design more isolation plays that would allow Jefferson to be more aggressive on offense and attack the rim rather than just taking jump shots.
That way opposing teams will be forced to adjust on defense than usual because it will add another dimension to the Spurs' offense. On defense, Richard Jefferson is not a defensive stopper although he has proven to be a capable defender.
But are the Spurs getting their money's worth in Jefferson?
This is what Coach Pop has to say when that question was asked. "Those kind of opinions are for you all (in the media) to form, we just go to work every day and try to be the best team we can be. You can assess it any way you want.”
Evidently, the Spurs believe that they can still get better as the season goes on. Coach Pop is finding ways to make it happen. In the mean time, Jefferson still needs to prove that the Spurs made no mistake in trading for him.
Should the Spurs trade Jefferson? Do the Spurs need to allow him to move more “freely” on offense to be more productive or is he scoring enough points and just need to improve on the defensive side of the floor? Share us your thoughts.