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Al Jefferson

John Hollinger ranked Al Jefferson (Insider necessary) #1 in his recent look at the players who improved the most during the season. In the process he takes a shot at the C's as well:

Pardon me while I pull a Rob Neyer here. Let's do a side-by-side comparison of two players, whom we'll call "Player A" and "Player B"

Player A: 20.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 53.1-percent shooting
Player B: 19.5 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 54.7-percent shooting

Which player is doing better? Player B, right? Now suppose I told you that Player A is Elton Brand ... and Player B is Al Jefferson since the All-Star break. Yes, really. And if you do this same exercise with any of the game's other top power forwards -- excluding the holy hoops trinity of Dirk, Duncan and KG -- you'll find Jefferson can hang with any of them.

It's been slow and painful at times, but Big Al has arrived. The 22-year-old has finally reduced the turnovers, fouls and defensive lapses enough to allow his dominating post skills to shine, and as a result he's been one of the few bright spots in a painful Celtics season. However, we may not see any more of him this year. Jefferson has a sore knee and since the Celtics want Greg Oden, er, I mean since the Celtics don't want to risk worsening his injury, it's possible they'll shut him down.