The last two nights Al Jefferson has been undeniably the best player on the floor. He has dominated the Cavaliers and Bobcats inferior big men with dominating all around performances. The easy answer is that Ryan Hollins, Bismack Bitombo and the like are Summer League talent and Jefferson should dominate.
He should dominate these players, but that doesn’t make those performances any less spectacular or worthy.
The NBA is about how many match-ups you can dominate. Choose any player in the NBA and figure out how many times he has the advantage against an opponent and how many times that advantage is sizable and you have his value. Place each player on a team in a role and then look and see how many match-ups that team has the advantage and then how many they dominate and you have the team value.
It is in vogue to talk about collective effort and focus on group dynamics in the NBA, but in the purest form it comes down to each match-up and finding the advantage.
Al Jefferson dominates a lot of match-ups in the NBA and that is where he sits in his NBA value. When he goes against Bynum, Howard or the likes he struggles. That is his placement in the league.
Early in the year when the Jazz bench was winning games, Tyrone Corbin was finding way to get the game to be decided by match-ups out of the top two or three players on the floor. When the Jazz have faced teams with star players late in games they have had a hard time winning those key match-ups.
The greats in the league have the advantage every night, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki, etc. As players age those nights with the advantage become less often. For players the tier of Jefferson, an upper level player, but not a star is that he dominates his match-up a good deal but not every night.
These are not only offensive players. Kevin Garnett, Joaquim Noah and others dominate on the defensive side of the ball and it has the same impact as offensively, maybe more so because so few players are able to achieve that standard.
The key to this is when you have the advantage you have to take someone out back to the woodshed and putting a beating down. Jefferson did exactly that the last two nights.