2015 Year in Review: Richard Jefferson

Exit Interviews: Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson reflects on his 2014-15 season with the Mavs.

Richard Jefferson was one of the most reliable players on the Mavs roster this season. You knew exactly what he was going to do when he came into the game, and that’s shoot threes to great effect. Even at age 34, he still makes it look easy.

Unfortunately, health kept Jefferson out of Game 5 in the playoffs, as it did several other Mavericks, so he wasn’t able to see the season off the way he deserved to. All that considered, though, Jefferson put together a quality season, furthering his development into one of the more consistent three-point specialists in the NBA.

SEASON STATS

PTS REB FG% 3PT%
5.8 2.5 44.4 42.6

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

Jefferson

Jefferson’s three-point percentage led the team, and he was also one of the most reliable and oft-used corner three shooters — his 43.8 percent mark from the spot was bested only by Devin Harris and JJ Barea, in that order. He shot better than 45 percent from beyond the arc for four individual months during the season, as well, a very impressive feat for anyone in this league.

He also displayed the ability to get to the rim with general ease and he could finish at a league-average rate. Chandler Parsons was the small forward most dangerous off the bounce on this team, but Jefferson, even considering his age, can still move well on the ball. He relies on craftiness more now than he maybe used to, but he could make things happen from the weak side, and that’s what made him such a valuable spot starter this season.

STANDOUT SHOWING

This was maybe the most ferocious in-game dunk by any Maverick in the Dirk Era.

Jefferson’s Incredible Dunk

Richard Jefferson goes way up for an amazing slam, but an offensive foul wiped away the score.

Alas, Jefferson was inexplicably called for an offensive foul and the play didn’t count. That didn’t stop the Internet from temporarily breaking as we took a moment to appreciate not only how unbelievable the dunk itself was, but how much more impressive a play it was given Jefferson’s age. It was incredible.

As for an individual game, Jefferson’s brightest moment came in the double-OT win in Denver on April 10, when he scored 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 4-of-8 from three. If you had to simplify it to one game, that would be the one, but Jefferson had so many spot starts throughout the season due to various injuries to others that he proved his value simply by remaining healthy and playing.

CONTRACT STATUS

Jefferson is an unrestricted free agent this summer. After missing the playoffs last season with the Jazz, I’m sure it was refreshing to get back to the playoffs with the Mavs this year.

That said, with this being Jefferson’s 14th season in the league, it’s unclear how much longer he’ll keep playing, meaning teams will likely offer him a one-year contract. That seems to be the way the league is trending — many veterans almost become nomads toward the end of their career. But this much is clear: Every team in the league needs wings who can shoot threes, and Jefferson is one of them.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

As is the case with fellow teammate Charlie Villanueva, Jefferson will be able to hit threes for as long as he can stand up. He’s only shot below 39.7 percent on threes twice since the end of the 2007-08 season, and in today’s NBA shooting is one of the most sought-after qualities by teams around the league.

This season, however, was sort of different for Jefferson. After coming off the bench with mixed success in Golden State during the 2012-13 season, Jefferson was much more consistent this season, but he’s started nearly every game of his career during every other season. It’s good that he was able to play effectively off the bench, as that will make him more attractive to competitive teams with quality starting wings, including the Mavs. So long as he can continue knocking down jump shots, he can almost play for as long as he wants.

Sharpshooter Richard Jefferson ecstatic to land with Mavs

Getting to know Richard Jefferson

Mavs F Richard Jefferson dishes on why he chose to play for Dallas, the secret to his longevity in the league, his spectacular sense of humor and much more!

Richard Jefferson isn’t your typical basketball player.

That’s an awfully common statement, one that you see all the time. Players have Twitter and Instagram accounts in today’s NBA, giving fans a glimpse into their personal lives. It makes unique players even more unique than we thought they were. For example, this summer Ekpe Udoh hosted a meeting for his own book club made up of fans he met on Twitter. That’s crazy, and Twitter made it happen.

But that’s not why Jefferson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill kind of guy. He’s not on Twitter. He’s not on Instagram. He’s not on Facebook or Vine or any other social media platform. It doesn’t mean he’s boring, and it certainly doesn’t mean he’s old-fashioned — though, at 34 years old, he’s definitely a veteran in NBA years.

He’s not a typical player because he follows the news — not on Twitter. He follows it on the television. The mystery surrounding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight? Jefferson was consumed by it as many others were. But a teammate of his wasn’t. Today’s youngsters get their news from Twitter and, in the case of one of Jefferson’s former teammates, Worldstar. So when Jefferson turned to this teammate to talk about the flight — where’d it go? — that teammate had no idea what the Mavs’ new small forward was talking about.

“I just went to my room and cried,” Jefferson said at Mavs media day. “I cried for our future. I cried for our children. I cried for the NBA. Those are things that are very, very sad.”

That’s the thing about Jefferson. He speaks in sarcasm the way many of us do. Make no mistake: NBA players are all, for the most part, funny dudes. But to understand Jefferson’s humor, you have to keep up with him. Some of his past teammates just don’t understand it. He’s not the typical player. And about that former teammate that wasn’t in tune with the world’s current events? Jefferson is taking the high road. “I will not say that individual’s name,” he said.

Entering his 14th season, Jefferson has just about seen it all. He’s been to two NBA Finals and has made the playoffs in both conferences — three teams in total. He’s played on the East coast, the West coast, the Midwest, and the South. This is his second tour of duty in Texas, after spending two full season and part of a third with the San Antonio Spurs. Dallas will be his sixth team. But as funny as the swingman is, he’s serious about winning.

“I came into this league only wanting to play in the playoffs,” he said. “And if you’re not playing in the playoffs, you’re kind of wasting your time.”

That, he said, is what drew him to Dallas in free agency.

“When they called, it was a very, very short conversation,” he said. “They called and told me about the opportunity, and it was done.”

Jefferson will most likely be coming off the bench this season behind fellow free-agent acquisition Chandler Parsons playing a little small forward and perhaps a little shooting guard. His role with the Mavericks, likely to be the fourth different team with which he makes a playoff appearance, will be to hit threes. That’s it. And he’s just fine with that.

“I am ecstatic because my job is just to knock down open shots when they need me,” he said. “And, truth be told, those are the things that help you extend your career. If i would’ve just depended on my athleticism and just depended on driving to the basket, and didn’t work on other aspects of my game, by the time I would’ve got to this point my body would’ve been beaten up. I would’ve been old and I wouldn’t have improved. Now, because I’ve worked so hard from year one to year 14, I can stand outside, I can shoot threes, and I can help younger players and other guys that need a break or need somebody to kick it out to.”

That improvement has been paramount to Jefferson’s career. He was remarkable behind the three-point line last season with the Utah Jazz, where he hit better than 40 percent of his attempts for the third time in four seasons.

That’s the type of efficiency the Mavs expected from him when they offered him a contract this summer. And if he can produce and the rest of the pieces come together, Jefferson and the Mavs will get back to the playoffs. It’ll work out for both parties. Just don’t expect him to hit you with Instagram updates when they get there.