I'm going to be honest, I didn't really expect Othyus Jeffers to get called-up this season, but I'm really happy he did.
You're probably wondering, then, why I haven't ranked him in any of my call-up lists. It's because I underestimated NBA GM's in the sense that they actually look at more than the leading scorers/rebounders in the D-League.
Jeffers, a 6-foot-5 2/3/4, is not the type of player that's going to stand out without actually watching him in action. In his D-League career, Jeffers is averaging 18.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and two steals while shooting 53% from the field. Those are good numbers, certainly, but this season, after returning from Italy, Jeffers is averaging a rather pedestrian 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
So why would the Jazz call him up? His defense. More specifically - his toughness. He's listed at 6-foot-5, John Hollinger says he's closer to 6'2", and he's been starting at power forward for one of the best teams in the D-League. Not many players could do this, but he uses his strength and defensive instincts to actually make it work in the D-League. I wouldn't experiment with this in the NBA, but he's certainly shown he's willing, and able, to do whatever it takes to win.
Pretty much everything Jeffers has going for him is said in this clip. The one thing he has going against him is LeBron James, and, like Sundiata Gaines before him, he seems to have conquered the King.
If you don't know the Othyus Jeffers story, it might actually rank as high as the Sundiata Gaines story - at least in my book. Speaking of great stories, yes, I probably will be e-mailing Bill Simmons tomorrow to see if he'd like to Executive Produce a series focusing on the behind-the-scenes stories of Utah Jazz call-ups. Hey there, Rusty LaRue! Also, Behind The Pontail: The Lou Amundson Story.
Here's my quick Othyus Jeffers Scouting Report:
Offensively, he's a quick, efficient slasher who can finish in the lane and is best suited for a transition offense. Off the dribble, he's exceptional - no one can defend his first step and he's able to finish at the rim - he's very deliberate. Shooting though, is ocassionally a bit of a problem. It's not that he has a bad shot, it looks pretty, but it doesn't fall as much as you'd think it should when watching it leave his hands. He's been played at power forward much of his career though, so I'm assuming his jump shot will improve with more time spent, as it seems the mechanics are there.
Defensively, he's great. I don't really know how much I'm able to add to what I said above, but I really want to pound home that he's been a great defender. If you have any questions about specific situations or anything else pertaining to his defense, I'd be happy to answer them.
I'm going to leave you with something I wrote about Jeffers last May in regards to what separates NBA players and non-NBA players:
For Othyus Jeffers, his coming out of an NAIA school (along with other things in his past) didn't get him noticed until the end of the D-League season. Does this mean he wasn't talented enough to play in the NBA last season? No, it just means that he wasn't invited to showcase his abilities coming of Robert Morris-Chicago. He has athleticism, heart, speed, swagger, stick-to-it-iveness and length. That's six different things that people mentioned that make non-NBA players NBA players. Yet he's not (yet) an NBA player.