TrueHoop: Jared Jeffries
On January 7, 2009, Brooks scored 19 points in 37 minutes off the bench in an 89-85 win over the Celtics. On April 2, 2010, he scored 30 points and had nine assists in a 119-114 overtime win in Boston. Brooks was clutch that night, hitting a game-tying three-pointer with nine seconds remaining.
Brooks was good in this one too -- 8-for-15 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range. He had been 5-for-24 from behind the arc in his previous six games. Brooks entered the game shooting 36 percent on the road this season. But Boston felt just like home to him.
The Celtics, by the way, are now 12-0 at home against Eastern Conference teams, 4-3 at home against the Western Conference.
Elsewhere, Derrick Rose’s 29 points gave him six straight games with at least 20 points against the Detroit Pistons, whom the Chicago Bulls beat, 95-82 -- their 10th straight win against Detroit. A check with the Elias Sports Bureau shows that the last Bulls player with six straight 20-point games vs Detroit was Michael Jordan, who had a seven-game streak from February 1992 to April 1995.
Two players from these games provided an illuminating contrast in plus-minus. Chicago center Kurt Thomas played 30 minutes in the Bulls’ win over the Pistons, not scoring a point. But the Bulls outscored the Pistons by 24 points with Thomas on the floor. This was a contrast to recent efforts by Thomas, who recorded a negative plus-minus rating in each of his previous four games.
In Boston, Marquis Daniels gave the Celtics a lift off the bench with 19 points (on 7-for-8 shooting) in just 24 minutes. But the Celtics outscored the Rockets by only one point with him in the game. Meanwhile, Rockets forward Jared Jeffries didn’t score in his 12 minutes, but the Rockets had a 15-point edge on the Celtics during his minutes.
We cycled through various players. One of them was Danilo Gallinari, who is going to be a tough cover for the next 20 years. He is so big and shoots so well. For a guy like that, athleticism is a nice-to-have. When the coast is clear to joke about Gilbert Arenas again, we should call him the Desert Eagle -- 'cause that's a ridiculously large gun.
But eventually we started watching Jared Jeffries. Once that started, I never did anything else. It was natural -- to watch Jeffries was to understand the Knicks' entire defense, and most of the Bobcats' offense.
Jeffries guarded various different Bobcats, but more than anything he was empowered to roam wherever the action was, and did. If the Bobcats were shooting, the uber-long Jeffries was there, annoying the shooter.
And he has a crazy knack for it. If the Bobcats missed, or turned it over, Jeffries always seemed to be there, sometimes even reaching all the way around his own teammates who had better position but were nonetheless less effective. It was almost comical how he starred in nearly every good thing New York did on defense, and made things very difficult for the Bobcats' offense, but almost never earned a statistic. 10 rebounds, six points, two blocks and a steal, isn't bad, but it's nothing compared to what he did. In fairness, you should probably triple his steal and block numbers.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if there's a case for plus/minus or some kinds of stats the measure defensive contributions, Jeffries is it. The boxscore said he was so-so. I say he was this game's clear MVP.
Next time you watch the Knicks, watch Jeffries. You'll see what I mean.
To the frustration of Utah Jazz (who own the Knicks' first-round pick in the upcoming draft), the Knicks have played respectable basketball for the better part of a month. New York is 8-3 in December and has beaten some pretty good teams (Atlanta, Phoenix, Portland) in the process.
According to Wayne Winston, Jared Jeffries has been part of the recent surge:
I believe the key to the Knicks' improvement has been primarily the improved play of Jarred Jeffries and to a lesser degree the improvment of Duhon and Lee. In 109 December minutes where Jeffries was in and Chandler was out the Knicks have played 24 points better than average. When Chandler is in and Jeffries is out the Knicks have stumbled around and played 5 points worse than average. Jeffries adjusted +/- rating for December is 15 points better than average.
Amazingly in December Lee Jeffries and Duhon in together have played 16 points better than average. When Lee and Duhon are in without Jeffries the Knicks have played at an average level.
Winston notes that when the Knicks field a lineup of Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee and Jeffries, they're "an amazing 51 points better than average per 48 minutes."
Jeffries averaged 19.2 minutes per game in October and November, but has logged 30.4 minutes per game in December. It's a small sample size -- and I'll take Chandler over Jeffries most days unless I'm confronting a very specific defensive riddle -- but the Knicks are undoubtedly a better defensive team than they were a month ago. Does Jeffries' uptick in playing time have something to do with that improvement?