The Charlotte Hornets, one of several surprisingly competitive teams making the Eastern Conference look like the new Western Conference, had their postseason hopes take a major hit when the team announced today that starting center, Al Jefferson, will be undergoing knee surgery.
The Hornets’ official twitter account revealed in a series of tweets that “Al Jefferson will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow to address a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee. Earlier today, Jefferson underwent an MRI which revealed the injury. Recovery time is expected to be about six weeks. The procedure will be completed by Hornets Team Physician Dr. Marcus Cook at Novant Orthopedic Hospital in Charlotte.”
And Bleacher Report’s Alec Nathan reports:
Jefferson was sidelined in December because of a strained left calf, but the big man returned Dec. 26 after spending more than three weeks on the shelf.
A post-up maven on a rapidly improving Hornets offense, Jefferson is averaging 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds on 48.2 percent shooting so far this season. Additionally, Big Al is scoring on 42 percent of his post-up opportunities, according to Synergy Sports data provided toNBA.com.
In Games Jefferson has played this year, the Hornets are 12-7 and when he hasn’t, they’re 5-6, so it’s pretty apparent they notice his loss when he’s not there. On the other hand, the Hornets are +5.8 in net rating when Jefferson is on the bench compared to plus-.1 when he’s on the court, according to NBA.com.
So, maybe it’s not all a lost cause after all. The Hornets have changed the way they play, from the plodding deliberate old school and defense-first style to the court-stretching, three-point shooting, run and gun style this year. Jefferson fits better with the former type of play than the latter. Ergo, it might not be as traumatic of a loss as it appears at first brush. But you always want your best players available, so hopefully he’ll return on time.