Cory Jefferson, the final pick of the 2014 NBA draft, has signed a two-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, according to the team’s website.
The Brooklyn Nets have signed guard Markel Brown and forward Cory Jefferson to multi-year contracts, General Manager Billy King announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
Jefferson, the 60th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers on draft night in exchange for cash considerations. He recently completed his fifth and final season at Baylor University (he redshirted during the 2010-11 season), averaging 13.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.30 steals and 1.30 blocks in 29.0 minutes per game en route to All-Big 12 Third Team honors. During his junior season, the 6’9” forward was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after averaging 13.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.90 blocks in 27.9 minutes per game. He also earned NIT All-Tournament team honors after helping lead Baylor to the NIT championship.
Jefferson’s deal is partially guaranteed at $75,000 for this season and fully non-guaranteed for next season.
That non-guaranteed deal comes as a surprise to me, because I think Jefferson is going to get minutes this season. Mason Plumlee, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez are the only three other true big men on the Nets (they also have Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic, who are more stretch guys). Given the age of Garnett and injury history of Lopez, Jefferson stands a good chance to actually receive playing time for the Nets at some point, even if he has to spend some time in the D-League first. My assumption is that the Nets go out and try to get another veteran, but if they can’t Jefferson has a lot of opportunity.
Before casting aspersions on the Nets though, let’s talk about Jefferson’s game. He’s a 6’9, 220 pound power forward that uses his great athleticism to the fullest by never letting his motor quit. His vertical athleticism is superb, as shown by his 37.5 inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft combine this season, only bettered by Aaron Gordon among power forwards. That level of activity and athleticism most shows up on the boards, as his 11.1 rebounds per-40 minutes are impressive, as well as his 21.2 defensive rebounding percentage. His other strengths include his ability to finish strongly at the rim — where he shot 67 percent this season — and his burgeoning midrange game. Jefferson took 38 threes this season, connecting on 37 percent of them. If he can make that a more consistent part of his game, his combination of rebounding and floor-spacing will give him quite a unique skill set in the NBA.
The biggest weaknesses he has at this moment are just his general coordination, skill level, and lateral quickness. He’s definitely not someone who can create any offense for himself, unless it’s through activity on the offensive glass. Also, his defense on the perimeter definitely leaves something to be desired, as he’s not quick enough to play away from the bucket. It’s also worth mentioning that while he’s pretty strong for his size, he could probably stand to put on some weight in order to bang with big men in the post.
The defense is what ultimately will make the difference between whether or not he’s going to stick in the NBA. If he can at least make himself serviceable on the perimeter, I think he could be a backup big man for quite a while. The rebounding and activity level could really make him valuable for someone.