Former Celtic Al Jefferson Finally Finds Environment to Thrive in Utah, Looking to Continue Hot Hand Against C’s


January 21, 2011

Former Celtic Al Jefferson Finally Finds Environment to Thrive in Utah, Looking to Continue Hot Hand Against C's In the summer of 2004, the Celtics used their three first-round picks on Tony Allen, Delonte West and Al Jefferson. Where are they now?

Allen stuck around Boston for six years, becoming a key bench role player for a Celtics team that made the NBA Finals twice, winning it all in 2008.

West spent three seasons in Boston, then wound up as part of a perennial championship contender alongside LeBron James in Cleveland. He’s now back in Boston, searching for a ring in 2011.

Jefferson wasn’t so lucky.

Big Al spent three seasons with the Celtics, then three with the Minnesota Timberwolves after changing hands in the Kevin Garnett trade. He went from one hopeless losing situation to another — his teams’ win totals in his first six seasons were 45, 33, 24, 22, 24 and 15, respectively. Jefferson’s entire postseason resume consists of one first-round exit with the Celtics in his rookie season.

But now Jefferson, who turned 26 earlier this month, is finally relevant in the NBA. With a move to Salt Lake City last summer, Jefferson is now a low-post beast for Jerry Sloan‘s Utah Jazz, giving him a system where he can thrive and a team that can take him deep into the playoffs.

Jefferson averages 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for the Jazz, who are tied for fourth in the Western Conference and look primed to return to a second-round playoff series in 2011, if not more. Playing alongside an elite point guard in Deron Williams and with a stable of capable big men next to him — Mehmet Okur, Paul Millsap, Andrei Kirilenko — Jefferson is finally equipped to be a winner. He’s got a group he can go to war with.

On Friday night, Jefferson returns to Boston as the Jazz take on the Celtics at the TD Garden. Big Al averages 21.0 points per game against the C’s, his former team, and he’ll surely be looking to drop another 20-something Friday.

This time, though, the points will finally have a purpose. Playing for a contender, Big Al is bigger than ever.

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