It took a little while, but Charlotte Bobcats’ center Al Jefferson is finally living up to his lofty fantasy basketball expectations. After a prosperous 12-game run, Jefferson has found himself near the top of my center rankings — and rightfully so.
Jefferson signed a 3-year, $41 million contract with the Bobcats during the off-season, but was barely given chance to adjust to his new settings. On October 11, in a preseason game vs. the Miami Heat, Jefferson went down with a sprained right ankle. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of the preseason, as well as nine of the first 12 games of the regular season. Fantasy owners who drafted him in the first couple of rounds could only hope he would eventually get to full strength. For those owners were patient enough, it has been well worth the wait.
His torrid dozen-game stretch has him ranked 14th on Basketball Monster.com over the last month — and it’s well deserved. Since January 14, the 29-year-old center has averaged 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks. He has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in 10 of those 12 games, leading to a 54.8 field goal percentage over that period. Owners in leagues that count field goals made have to be especially pleased, as Jefferson has knocked down 11.8 shots per contest over those 12 games. Never known for his passing skills (1.5 assists per game in his career), Jefferson has also dished out 3+ assists in five games over that span. He’s shooting just 67.7 percent from the line during his current run, but fantasy basketball owners will be more than happy to punt free throw percentage when they’re being gifted all the other stats he has been providing.
During the duration of his hot streak, Jefferson has led the Bobcats to a 7-5 record, helping them lay claim to the eighth seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. If you own him, your fantasy team is probably having similar success, and a potential playoff spot awaits. Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins may not relinquish the top spot any time soon, but Jefferson’s owners have to be thrilled with the Bobcats big man landing at No. 2 in my latest fantasy basketball center rankings: