Should Jefferson continue to come off the bench?

The offseason trade for Richard Jefferson has not panned out as expected. Instead of being considered as one of the top contending teams this season, the Spurs are now fighting hard just to maintain playoff position. The team is currently ranked 7th in the West and are virtually tied with 8th placed the Portland Trail Blazers.

Spurs even lost their patience on RJ and tried to shop him at the trade deadline but there were no takers. Mainly due to his huge contract which is at 14.2 million due this year and 15 million in the next. He also haven’t played well enough to attract or convince other teams to gamble on him.

Now the Spurs are stuck with Jefferson and hope that his play gets better as the post season approaches. 

With Jefferson struggling and the rotation not yet set, Coach Pop decided to put Jefferson on a reserve role. So far, it seems that the move has benefited Jefferson. He has looked more confident and comfortable when playing off the bench.

In 50 games as a starter, Jefferson is averaging 12.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31.3 minutes of playing time.

While in 7 games on a reserve role, he is averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assist in 29.1 minutes of action. He is also shooting better from the free throw line at 82.7% when coming off the bench compared to a measly 69.5% when he is starting.

Jefferson has embraced his off the bench role
drawing inspiration from Manu Ginobili. He said that  “No, it’s not hard at all to accept, I just want to win. You look at a guy like Manu, who’s been All-NBA, one of the best players in this league, and he comes off the bench”

jeffersondunk2“Starting isn’t a pride thing. I didn’t start, but I was in the game at the very end. That’s been the situation most of these games I haven’t started since the All-Star break. As long as I earn those minutes to be in at the end of the game, I’m happy.”

Jefferson was on the floor through the entire fourth period of Wednesday’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, logging 31:34 for the game.

The Spurs also noticed Richard Jefferson’s improvement and different approach towards the game when he comes off the bench. Coach Gregg Popovich said this about Jefferson after the game against the Phoenix Suns. “He’s been aggressive. He’s driving the ball well. He’s driving with the shot and not thinking about things. His defense is better too.”

And according to Jefferson that’s the plan saying “My game plan from here on out? Just drive and keep driving and driving.”

Jefferson’s commitment to aggression at the offensive end produced his first 20 point game since December 29 as he helped the Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns 113-110 at home.

Playing seven games as a reserve is a small sample, but Richard Jefferson’s numbers improved and his aggression on both ends on the floor is more apparent when he plays off the bench.

But maybe that is what he exactly needs to get comfortable with the Spurs, just be aggressive and not think too much on making his shot or who is on the floor.

During the Spurs’ last four games in a reserve role, Jefferson has improved his averages to 13.5 points, 5.5 boards, and 1.75 assists per game while shooting 48.7% from the field in 31 minutes of action.

Whether Richard Jefferson can sustain his solid play off the bench remains to be seen. But for the time being he seems to be a better fit in a reserve role.

What do you think? Should Jefferson continue to come off the bench or does he need more floor time with the starting lineup? Share us your thoughts.