Hopefully, you’re ready with cheat sheets, rankings and tips for your annual fantasy basketball draft party. If it hasn’t happened already, just know it’s coming. Over the last week, we broke down and debated key matchups so when the time comes to choose, you’ll know where to go.
Up first was the debate over the best fantasy player in the game. Is it LeBron or KD? Then we asked about Dwight Howard and Kevin Love, before diving into James Harden vs. Chris Paul and then Derrick Rose against Kyrie Irving. Now today, we’re pitting Al Jefferson against Pau Gasol. We argue. You decide.
*based on head-to-head format*
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The 2007-08 season was a big one for the career of Al Jefferson. He had just arrived in Minnesota as the replacement for the franchise’s all-time greatest player, Kevin Garnett, but had only one solid statistical season to back it up with. It didn’t take long for him to silence any doubters. Jefferson broke out with average of 21.0 points and a career-high 11.1 rebounds.
Although he would only last three seasons as a member of the Timberwolves, right now the stay is considered his statistical prime. Over those three years, he put up 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, while shooting 50 percent from the field and pitching in 1.5 blocks per game. Long before Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio arrived in Minnesota, it was Al Jefferson who was relied upon to take on the bulk of productivity for the Timberwolves, but why am I still dwelling on the past so much?
Jefferson signed a three-year deal in Charlotte over the summer, putting him in a situation mirroring the one that he was stuck in with the Timberwolves. I don’t think I have to go into too much detail about the haplessness of the Bobcats. Since their formation they’ve been considered the doormat of the NBA. Last year, they finished 26th in the league in points per game and 29th in points allowed. They are desperate for any able body to put the ball in the hoop, and while Al-Jeff may not be in his prime anymore, he’s certainly capable of putting up tons of stats on a poor team. Heck, even Byron Mullens was a fantasy force for them last year. Charlotte ranked last in the NBA with a point differential of -9.3 points per game last season, and with a roster void of any major improvements aside from the acquisition of the big man, it looks like this season will be about the same. As the losses pile up, it will create plenty of opportunity for garbage time minutes.
Feasibly, another 20 and 10 season from Jefferson isn’t out of the question, but the same can’t be said for Pau Gasol. Entering 13th season, it’s quite possible that the older Gasol’s best years are behind him. He’s not even considered as the best fantasy player in his family anymore. Sure, the assists and free throw percentage are a plus from your big man, but Pau has played more than 65 games just twice since joining the Lakers in 2008 and it’s hard to be productive when you aren’t on the floor.
Jefferson doesn’t have the name value or finesse that Gasol owns, but I’m sure if he played in Los Angeles than he would be all the rage too. The only thing that matters to fantasy owners is the numbers, and you don’t have to look pretty doing it. Al-Jeff is your throwback big man who grinds out stats night in and night out and is in line for a rebirth in the fantasy basketball world. If the opportunity to take him presents itself on draft day, make sure not to pass him up.