November 22, 2010 -
That headline is my new nickname for Al Jefferson, which I sincerely hope doesn’t stick. While scanning through Big Al's game stats, I happened to notice an interesting and somewhat disturbing trend. He seems to have one good game followed by a less-than-stellar outing. With the exception of the first four games of the season, Jefferson has never increased his scoring output in consecutive games. It goes up one game, then drops the next.
Jefferson’s first regular-season game (heretofore referred to as Game 1) in a Jazz uniform was forgettable. He scored only 6 points against Denver. He has failed to reach double digits only one other time since, a 2-point outing against Miami in Game 7. Big Al’s next-lowest scoring totals came in games 11 and 13, in which he put up 12 and 10 points respectively. In odd-numbered games, Jefferson is averaging a dismal 12 points on 40% shooting (31/77).
Even-numbered games have been a completely different story. Jefferson has averaged 20 points on 52% shooting (60/115) in those contests. He is also averaging 5 more minutes played in those games, which I think is more of a result of his higher productivity rather than a cause for it.
Here’s the real kicker: Utah’s record in even-numbered games is 6-1. In odd-numbered games, it's only 3-4.
The Jazz have only won a single game in which Jefferson scored less than 15 points, and that was the Miracle in Miami when Millsap posted a career-high 46 to offset Big Al’s disappointing night. The team clearly needs his scoring punch, and they tend to struggle without it.
We’re only 14 games into an 82-game season, so there’s not much statistical validity to any of this yet. Still, it’s somewhat concerning that Jefferson seems to have trouble putting up strong performances in consecutive games. The silver lining here is that he doesn’t string together consecutive bad games either. My hope is consistency (the good kind) will come in time as he becomes more comfortable with the system and his teammates.
EDIT: I wrote this article before the Sacramento game (#15 -- an odd number) on Monday night. Naturally, Jefferson had to go damage my theory with a 19-point outing against the Kings. Still, it was statistically worse than his previous game (20 pts on 8-13 shooting), so if he turns in a better performance on Wednesday then the pattern remains in tact.