2011 Report Card: Jared Jeffries

“They went to Jared!”

Within seconds after the Knicks’ 96-93 Game 2 loss to the Celtics, the mock headline had populated the interwebs like a nasty (and hilarious!) case of crabs. After a 42 point, 17 rebound detonation as blistering as it was heroic, Carmelo Anthony chose to punctuate his transcendent performance by…. deferring to Jared Jeffries on the last possession.

If it weren’t for the pterodactylite reflexes of Kevin Garnett, Jeffries, Bill Walker (the intended recipient of Jared’s dish), and Melo would’ve all been heroes. The series tied at a game apiece, the Knicks — who played much of that game without Amar’e Stoudemire, and all of it without quad-hobbled Chauncey Billups — fly home that night under far different stars, and with far rosier prospects for the subsequent home stand. Instead, with their best punches mere grazes, the Bockers would take the best of Boston’s haymakers on their own court, bowing out in four games.


Kevin Garnett and Jared Jeffries, in their respective elements.

Looking back, the sentiment of that night exemplified the strange relationship the man they call “Jeffrightened” has enjoyed with the Knick faithful over the years (well, “enjoyed” probably isn’t the right word).

He first arrived in August of 2006, after New York’s qualifying offer to Jeffries (the $5.2 million mid-level exception, or about 800% of his actual value) went unmatched by his previous employer, the Washington Wizards (this would be track #15 on Isiah’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 3). Over the next three and a half seasons, Jeffries averaged 7.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, with a TS% of 48%.  Which, let’s face it, is just awful. Still, he was able to forge a sort of sporadically unique niche as a versatile defender capable of pestering everyone from Rajon Rondo to Dwight Howard. Albeit in bite-sized spurts.

Jeffries’ sincere-yet-clumsy play epitomized the teams of that woeful era — arguably the worst in franchise history. But unlike most of the 280 guys he’d call teammates over that stretch, Jeffries was present for most of the really, really bad years. As such, he had to endure first-hand what few players festering on terrible teams ever have to endure: capacity crowds almost every night. For that and that alone, he deserved — and still deserves — our respect.

On February 18, 2010, Jeffries became one of the sacrificial lambs set atop the altar of LeBron — for whom the Knicks had to clear roughly a debt ceiling’s worth of cap space to even have a chance at landing — having been shipped along with recent lottery pick Jordan Hill to the Rockets. In return, the Knicks got back a waning Tracy McGrady (more importantly, Tracy McGrady’s ever-waxing expiring contract) from the Rockets, along with Sacramento’s Sergio “Spanish Chocolate” Rodriguez. LeBron never arrived, and neither McGrady nor Rodriguez were resigned. Meanwhile, Jared Jeffries would spend the next 12 months doing little more than languishing on the end of Houston’s bench.

This game explodes immediately after pressing the power button

Then, like a wayward gull long-marooned by gales beyond his control, Jared Jeffries suddenly found himself spirited back to Manhattan’s shores. In the wake of February’s Melo-drama, the Knicks were desperately depleted, particularly on the front line. With few other options short of the D-League (and we know how enthused Walsh and D’Antoni have been about beating those bushes), the Bocker front office turned to a familiar, perpetually tear-bound face. Shortly after accepting a buyout from the Rockets, Jared Jeffries rejoined his former team, adding a serviceable though thoroughly rusted cog to a machine few were sure would even run smoothly.

Not surprisingly, many met JJ’s arrival — and subsequent spotty play — the same way they would, like, actual seagulls on the street: with a cold cocktail of disgust, disdain, and derisive mockery (which this article in no way reflects). Fairly or unfairly, Jeffries symbolized the bad old days of bloated contracts and blind roster-building. Regardless, Jeffries did provide some quality defensive bursts off the bench, and even started a handful of games down the stretch. All the while, he managed to “stay in his lane,” as the kids like to say, and brought to a still fledgling squad a modicum of familiarity and stability down low that it desperately needed — albeit sporadically so. He also lead the entire team in +/- with a whopping +9.6. Which I’m sure is as amazing for you to read as it was for me to type.

In contrast to many of the personnel moves the Knicks will have to make heading into next season, the fate of Jared Jeffries is, unfortunately, likely a foregone conclusion: With more options at the center position, chances are we’ve seen the last of the former Hoosier in the orange and blue. Could he still eke out a roster spot? If neither Josh Harrellson nor Jerome Jordan pan out (i.e. show up to camp unable to see their own toes), it’s conceivable. Barring that, Jeffries’ is simply far too limited to be even a marginal option for a team which, unlike last spring, shouldn’t have to worry about filling out its roster with emergency stopgaps.

Assuming #9 has indeed seen his last burn at the World’s Greatest, let us consider an epitaph:

He couldn’t shoot. He couldn’t really jump. Oftentimes, he’d react to an arriving pass as if it were a ball of spent uranium that’d been shot out of a canon. Incredibly, his free throw shooting has fallen 227 percentage points since college. His pick-and-rolls were easier to hedge than Fannie Mae, and his presence on the block exhibited all the speed, force, and grace of a beached turtle at low tide.

But no one could say he wasn’t loyal. Even after it was announced he was destined for the sweet, smoggy vistas of Houston, Jeffries — by all accounts a classy guy and solid teammate wherever he’s been — remained gracious. A year later, when the Knicks came calling, he picked up before the first ring even ended. He showed up. And, well, he showed up. Even if he’s not a part of this team’s grand plan going forward, let’s hope he can at least take some success-imparted solace in that one true canto threading past Knick teams godly and godawful alike: Once a Knick, Always a Knick.


Report Card (5 point scale):

Offense: -5
Defense: 4
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 2
Performance/Expectations: 2

Final Grade: C-

Similarity Scores:

0 Jared Jeffries 2011 29 TOT 8.0 .375 .360 4.4 3.7 6.9 2.2 1.9 1.0 1.3
0.264 Cherokee Parks 2002 29 SAS 7.6 .364 .361 9.7 3.7 8.9 1.5 1.1 1.2 2.2
0.272 Joe Ellis 1974 29 GSW 8.5 .344 .321 9.8 2.6 8.5 2.6 2.3 0.6
0.276 Tim Perry 1995 29 PHI 6.4 .397 .346 6.1 3.1 7.2 1.0 0.8 1.2 1.7
0.280 Mark Jones 2005 29 ORL 4.4 .325 .290 7.1 1.9 4.0 1.9 1.6 0.6 0.9
0.329 Don Ford 1982 29 CLE 3.7 .432 .375 4.1 2.5 6.3 2.0 1.4 0.0 2.7
0.333 Earl Barron 2011 29 TOT 6.2 .361 .323 9.3 3.8 9.0 1.3 0.9 0.7 1.9
0.335 Calbert Cheaney 2001 29 DEN 4.1 .340 .333 4.9 1.2 4.7 2.1 0.9 0.5 1.2
0.353 Leroy Wright 1968 29 PTP 6.3 .409 .400 6.2 11.7 1.5 2.2
0.362 Elston Turner 1989 29 DEN 7.8 .446 .431 6.9 2.2 5.9 3.0 1.9 0.2 1.2
0.363 Danny Vranes 1988 29 PHI 7.0 .444 .438 5.6 2.1 5.5 1.7 1.3 1.5 1.2

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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

23 thoughts to “2011 Report Card: Jared Jeffries”

  1. Hopefully seeing Earl Barron on Jared Jefferies comp list will shut down any more talk about him. Oh and nice article Jim. Keep up the good work.

  2. nice article, Jim. I think he is still worth a roster spot. Other than Balkman, who played like 12 minutes, Jeffries had the highest +/-. He is just so painful to watch though.

  3. Good point, Latke. Not sure how I glossed over that extremely weird but relevant statistic. In it goes.

  4. Since this is an article about Jeffries I figured talking about defense is appropriate. With Lawrence Frank going to Detroit that seemingly takes away the Knicks best option for their new “defensive” ast coach (apparently D’Antoni wouldve loved to have hired Frank since they get along well). Some articles have mentioned Marc Iavoroni who was D’Antoni’s defensive coordinator sort of speak in Phoenix.

    Most writers have mocked this scenario since they say the Suns couldnt play D so why hire him. But looking at their defensive ratings under D’Antoni and Iavoroni they were 17, 16 and 13th. Iavoroni left before D’Antoni’s final season to coach the Grizzlies and the Suns dropped back to 16th in defensive rating (Iavoroni was horrible as Grizzlies coach).

    Funny part is it seems like the Suns miss D’Antoni’s defense because since he left they have been 26, 23 and 25th in defense. The season when they went to the Conf Finals under Alvin Gentry and idiots like Barkley were saying it was because they were actually playing defense for once unlike under D’Antoni were way off.

    Now the Suns under D’Antoni were not exactly defensive stalwarts, they were basically league average. But they certainly were not horrible or as bad as this past Knicks team was on defense. Im beginning to think that maybe hiring Iavoroni could have a positive impact on the Knicks defense next season.

  5. @7

    I laughed pretty hard at that one myself. I guess if you factor in “upside” it’s a not totally asinine argument. But still, the idea that Derek Rose is a better point guard today than Chris Paul produces an uncomfortable mix of rage and laughter that can’t be good for my heart.

  6. Did that guy really say Derrick Rose is the best PG because Kobe said so? Wow. People see somebody in a Bulls jersey dunk a basketball and lose their mind.

  7. Massive it was because Kobe said he “was a bad mutha.” How do you present yourself as a serious commentator/analyist of the sport. Could you imagine a finacial analyist giving you stock advice or your doctor doing that?

  8. “Out of all the idiotic signings during the Dark Age of the New York Knicks franchise, Jeffries’ albatross of a contract was the most glaring.”–Danny Chau

    I disagree. The most idiotic signing of the Thomas era was Jerome “The Other King” James. When we brought in Jared we knew he wouldn’t be an offensive force, but most of us had some hope that he could be a glue guy, a defensive forward who did the dirty work and contribute without needing the ball in his hands (Lord knows he did NOT need the ball in his hands).

    As bad as Jared may have been, he is easily better than James because at least Jared played. He did not play well but he always gave his best effort. Jerome never played here. He retired shortly after signing the contract. He never once came into the season in shape, he never played more than 44 games during his Knick tenure. His career high WS/48 is 0.052!! James was a joke. We all knew it the moment he was signed. How soon they forget.

  9. Im beginning to think that maybe hiring Iavoroni could have a positive impact on the Knicks defense next season.

    Sure, I’d be down with Iavoroni. What’s he up to these days?

  10. Not for nothing, but isn’t the fact that everyone was shouting that the Knicks have to do the deal part of the “overrated”ness? You know, that people were shouting “you have to do the deal” because they were overrating Melo?

  11. Don’t worry, with Chris Paul around to shoot Amar’e’s TS% back up about 70-80 percentage points and cut into Melo’s usage we’ll have three All-NBA level players.

  12. Have been thinking about the ramifications of this NBA stars –> Europe thing.

    Most of me says this is just bluster by the stars to make it seem like they don’t need the NBA. I am pretty sure they have no interest in leaving their cushy maximum-salary lifestyles in the US to go tromping around Europe and exposing themselves to injury.

    But it makes me wonder whether the owners are letting the players bluff themselves into a no-win situation. In poker this would be a good player knowing how the other player will play, letting the aggressive bettor drive the pot and twist the knife into themselves when you know you hold the nuts.

    If the owners are really willing to lose a season, then I’m sure they would be more than happy to have Kobe in Europe practicing 10x/week, riding old buses, and having officials not treat them like gold. Meanwhile all these european/chinese players will treat every possession against him like the 7th game of the playoffs – no more coasting through regular season games without looking like you just got dunked on by a short chinese dude. Opposing coaches will specifically gameplan to stop these guys – it only helps their image and the image of European/Chinese basketball if they can prevent these “Stars” from coming in and dominating.

    My feeling is that if there actually IS an exodus overseas, 5% might really enjoy a new experience, but 95+% of the players who make the move will very quickly be missing the perks of being an NBA player and of living in the US. And suddenly, guaranteed $2billion in salary, private jets, per diems, english-speaking people and family around you, and groupies suddenly don’t look that bad.

  13. I generally agree, Frank, except it is worth noting that all this Europe stuff does is delay the negotiating a little bit more, to the point where it really really looks bad right now for having a full season.

    It’s like both sides are looking at the 1999 schedule as the good result, and that freaks me out/pisses me off.

    I mean, for crying out loud, people, negotiate!!

  14. Frank,

    I agree that some of the players who go overseas will miss the US. But no one makes it into the NBA without being the sort of person who loves to play basketball and play against the best opposition possible. Kobe isn’t going to mind that every one is coming after him. He will take it as a challenge. A lot of the players are smart enough to know that they need coaching and improvement also. So I don’t think it’s just a negotiating ploy that they are looking there for employment. I don’t know if enough European teams will be willing to hire temporary employees (ones who will return as soon as the US work stoppage is settled) to make a big difference though. What would make a difference is if European basketball was televised here. I’d like that, and the NBA would consider that real competition.

  15. On the subject of Jeffries, I think he gets a bad rap because Isiah overpaid him and because he was a starter sometimes and people expect more from a starter. But the truth is he did his job and (from the plus/minus), definitely didn’t hurt the team and may have helped it. But he was playing for league minimum this year, never complained and always tried hard and the other players seemed to like. For me, that made him very rootable.

    I actually think his bad offense is partially due to lack of confidence. Carmelo seemed to be helping with that (which was nice). I’d like to see what happens if they get a pre season together to work things out and give him a little more confidence (not that a full pre season is likely, unfortunately)

  16. @21, I agree. Jared Jeffries couldn’t finish a play from underneath the rim but he could drive and convert a lay-up in KG’s face? It has to be a confidence issue. He always looks lost with the ball in his hand, but in order to get into the NBA you had to have some ball skills at some point in life. If he gets over this lack of confidence (which is possible, he’s never really played on a team with a real leader on court), he might not be completely useless on the offensive end.

  17. on Jeffries… i (like most of you) watched almost every game he has played as a Knick. For anyone to say HE was the main problem of this team, was watching with blinders on.

    Dude was a smart ballplayer. He knew what to do, and when to do it (the only problem was that he was not always ABLE to do it). If that last play went a) in or b) to a different player… we would be talking about the shockingly great game JJ played, including that awesomely bad drive (I forget if it tied the game or gave us the lead).

    I hope (and think) JJ will be back next year. I think in a team as flux as this team has been, having a guy that understands his role and understands how to play in the NBA is important. He should be something like the 8th guy off the bench and one of the more vocal guys in practices.

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