Nets-Bobcats: Three Things To Watch

Nets-Bobcats: Three Things To Watch
Al Jefferson, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker

Al Jefferson/AP

1) Al Jefferson vs. Mason Plumlee: Charlotte’s led on offense by Al Jefferson, arguably the best post scorer in the game. He’s shooting over 50 percent on shots in the post — a rarity — while averaging nearly 12 post-ups per game, according to Synergy Sports. He’s averaging 21.3 points and 10.4 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game this season, both higher than any individual Nets player has averaged this season.

Jefferson’s game is a throwback to the post-dominant 90s, if even more lumbering — he’s got an incredibly soft touch on his hook shot from the left block, and possesses a combination of brute strength and deft footwork that allows him to spin around defenders and get to the basket.

The Nets would normally check Jefferson with Kevin Garnett, but with Garnett sidelined, those duties go to the rookie Mason Plumlee and enigmatic Andray Blatche. Plumlee’s side-to-side help defense has improved with the added playing time, but he’s hardly done any work defending the post this year as fewer and fewer teams run an offense through the low block.

Though Plumlee will have his hands full keeping Jefferson from putting shots in the air, he’ll have an advantage getting off the ground. Jefferson’s official vertical leap according to his pre-draft measurement is 30″, which makes one wonder what his vertical leap would be if they didn’t let him use a trampoline. The Bobcats allow a league-low 10.1 fast-break points per game, but if the Nets can get Jefferson moving, Plumlee might find space to sneak around him.

This is Plumlee’s biggest challenge this season, and given his still-obscene foul rate of 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes, he might not last long.

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