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Who is Othyus Jeffers?

Yesterday the Wizards signed guard Othyus Jeffers to a 10-day contract.

Othyus Jeffers from the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League

Photo Credit: NBA.com

From the press release on the Wizards’ section of NBA.com:

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed swingman Othyus Jeffers from the NBA Development League’s Iowa Energy to a 10-day contract. Jeffers (6-5, 200), a two-time D-League All-Star (2009, 2011) and the 2009 D-League Rookie of the Year, has averaged 21.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists this season through 38 games (18 double-doubles) with Iowa.

Jeffers has also appeared in 15 NBA games over two seasons after being called up by the Utah Jazz in 2009-10 and the San Antonio Spurs this season. He will wear uniform #12.

This is Jeffers’ 2nd  10-day contract this season. His earlier stint with the Spurs ended with him having played in only one game for eight minutes (primarily because the Spurs were comfortably leading the Miami Heat by 29 points when he entered the game in the 4th quarter). Jeffers did appear in 20 contests (including six playoff games) last season with the Jazz. While his time in San Antonio doesn’t reveal much, during those 20 games with the Jazz, he played a total of 72 minutes, tallied one assist, and never attempted a 3-pointer. Suffice it to say that he was not signed for his floor-spacing or play-making.

Draft Express’ Matt Kamalsky offers this in his scouting report of Jeffers:

“He still has a lot of work to do on his ball-handling and perimeter scoring arsenal to make it a viable NBA tool…At this juncture, most of Jeffers’ points are the byproduct of his relentless hustle, quick first step, and physicality around the basket. He runs the floor with purpose in transition, isn’t selfish with the [ball] when he sees an open teammate, and seeks out contact at the rim. Getting to the line 8.5 times per-game and pulling down 2.5 offensive boards, Jeffers epitomizes the bulldog mentality and team first attitude that coaches love.”

Draft Express has a report on him from 2009 and again in January of this year – time enough for him to show improvement – and they show that, while he has improved marginally, shooting it is still a weakness.

What really distinguishes him, however, is his defense and rebounding ability – his play is known to belie his 6’5″ stature. His 9.1 rebounds per game is impressive for a wing player, even in the D-League, and he has rebounded even better during his short stays in the league, possessing a rebound rate that rivals power forwards (he has, in fact, lined up at the power forward spot for the Energy).

Draft Express on his defense:

“Jeffers’ biggest strength (besides his athleticism) clearly lies in his defense. He is incredibly tough and can absolutely smother opponents on the perimeter with his terrific combination of strength and length, taking great pride on this end of the floor. He gets in the passing lanes at an excellent rate, and is lightning quick getting out in transition. This activity level certainly translates to his work on the glass, where he is arguably the best rebounding wing player in the D-League, at nearly 10-boards per-40. He is especially impressive on the offensive glass, which is one of the main reasons he is so efficient from the field.

If Wizards fans are looking for a comparison, I would offer that he combines the best attributes of former Wizards Dominic McGuire and Alonzo Gee – he is a better offensive player than McGuire (who has been called the worst offensive player in the NBA), and a superior defender to Gee.

Jeffers is already 25 – older than Andray Blatche and just two months younger than Nick Young – so he is not a young project. He is by all accounts, however, a hard worker and a good teammate. 10-Day contracts guarantee that the player will be on the roster for 10 days or 3 games, whichever is later (for more on the nature of 10-Day contracts, see The 10-Day Contract – A Tantalizing Love Affair). While there is no guarantee that he will actually get in a game, the Wizards have long been out of the playoff hunt, so the risk of putting him in the game is minimal; really they have incentive to play him if they feel he could be a good fit for the roster going forward. For a roster devoid of plus defenders and one that could use an injection of intra-squad competition and work ethic, Jeffers has a good opportunity to stick.

For much more on Jeffers’ adversity as a youth and his personal journey to the NBA see:

A profile of him from USA Today in 2008

This profile from his time with the Jazz

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