Season Countdown: Big Al Jefferson

In anticipation of the 2007-08 Minnesota Timberwolves season, TWolvesBlog is counting down the days ’til tip-off by featuring some of our team’s players.  These player articles were written by several of our forum members, as well as the site’s regular contributors.  The final piece in this series was written by our forum member, "WhiskeyDizzy."  I’d like to present to you the new face of our franchise, power forward Al Jefferson. Good luck in the home opener tonight guys.

 

 AL Jefferson – "The New Face Of The Franchise"

by: WhiskeyDizzy

Number 25 for the 2007-2008 Minnesota Timberwolves was born Albus Jefferson in the small town of Monticello, Mississippi on January 4th, 1985.   Al attended Prentiss High School in Mississippi, where he excelled as a lost post scorer and dominate big man, winning the Missippi State Class 3A High School Championship in 2002.  In 2003, SI.com rated Al Jefferson as the number 1 High School big man in the country ahead of Dwight Howard and Lamarcus Aldridge, saying “Jefferson is a specimen with size, skill and more importantly he produces results…Super prospect.” During his Senior year, Al averaged 42 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocks per game and was named to the 2004 McDonald’s All-American team. Jefferson initially signed a Letter of Intent to play for the University of Arkansas, but later declared himself eligible for the 2004 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Boston Celtics.

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In his rookie year with the Celtics, ‘Big’ Al was plagued with ankle injuries that severely limited his playing time and development.  His finished his rookie campaign with 6.7 ppg and 4.4 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.  His sophomore season wasn’t too much better, as he finished the year averaging 7.9 ppg and 5.1 rebounds, a modest increase from his rookie year.  In the offseason, Big Al hired a personal Chef and made a serious effort to trim down, losing almost 30 pounds in the offseason.  Fate was not with Big Al, after experiencing severe pain during summer league play Jefferson underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankles.  Unfortunately this was not the only surgery Al had to endure, as Jefferson underwent another procedure to remove his appendix on November 2 right as the season was getting underway. 

After a quick recovery, all the offseason hurdles were laid to rest as Jefferson quickly began to turn his potential into production.  On December 6, 2006, ‘Not as Big’ Al posted a career high 29 points and 14 boards against the New Jersey Nets.  The following week, Jefferson continued his stellar play with a 28 point performance against the Denver Nuggets and 22 points against the Charlotte Bobcats.  In the spring, Jefferson set new career highs with a 32 point 18 rebound domination of the New Jersey Nets.  Al Jefferson finished the year averaging 16 points and 11 boards per outing, ranking in the top 20 in 9 statistical categories (according to NBA.com). 

On July 31, 2007, one of the biggest trades of this decade was made official.  Al Jefferson and 4 other Celtics (and picks) were traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.  Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett make the Celtics an instant contender for the Eastern Conference crown while the Timberwolves were infused with a fresh stream of young talent.  This trade has been hotly debated by fans of both teams, but each side now has new reasons for excitement and optimism this upcoming season.  As for Al, he now finds himself in a similar situation as last year:  a promising player on a young team looking to find its identity.  Thanks to a last minute deadline deal, the T-Wolves and Al Jefferson reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension just minutes before the October 31st, 2007 deadline.  If he continues to work hard and develop his skills, Al Jefferson will have a bright future and a wonderful career as a Minnesota Timberwolf!

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