- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2005

You usually can spot Jared Jeffries by the high number of pigeons roosting on his shoulders during a game.

The statistical inertness of Jeffries is perhaps the product of uncertainty in a contract season.

Only Wizards coach Eddie Jordan knows the veritable worth of Jeffries, the least of the starters, and that comes only from digesting reams of film, not box scores.

Perhaps Jeffries leads the team in deflections and charges. Perhaps he leads the team in picks and screens that actually impede the path of the defender. Observers outside the team keep no tally on these essentials.

The benefit of the doubt always goes to the coach in these matters, especially a coach who was among the best last season.

Jordan might not want to lose the flickering fight in Jeffries with a benching, although Jeffries looks lost already.

He is the so-called defensive luxury whose deficiencies have become more pronounced in the absence of Larry Hughes. Caron Butler is the logical heir to Hughes, although Butler often is stuck on the bench.

The options are not ideal, not with so many incongruent parts.

Antawn Jamison is hardly a power forward, shy that status by as many as 20 pounds of muscle. Yet he is a player, quirky as he is, with soft hands and a nose for the ball.

Jeffries allegedly serves the power forward function at the moment despite one respectable game out of 13, the seven-point,15-rebound number against the Pistons.

The rest of the time he is Dead Man Playing, and that is being unfair to the dead. Even the dead twitch on occasion.

You could plop Jeffries in the middle of one of the many circles across the city, and you would not be able to distinguish him from the statue, production-wise.

In another professional life, Jeffries could be a mime. Or a storefront mannequin.

By now, in his fourth NBA season, Jeffries should have an idea about his place in the game. He is supposed to be Michael Ruffin, only with three more inches and a tad more offense and versatility.

Instead, Jeffries appears to have just dropped into town from Bloomington, Ind. He is liable to bobble a pass out of bounds, as he did against the Bobcats, or clang a dunk attempt off the back of the rim, as he has done a number of times this season.

His free throw shooting technique is enough to give anyone heartburn.

Watch his left hand the next time he releases a free throw. He sometimes jerks it at the point of release, with predictable results.

There appears to be way too much ball-hand activity with his off hand. Not much more than his off-hand fingertips should be touching the ball, which explains the sometimes dead, knuckleball-like rotation on his outside shot.

Jeffries sometimes dribbles the length of the floor — and looks good doing it — only to reach that point in the process where it is possibly time to look for a shot.

Jeffries knows he cannot the shoot the ball from the perimeter with accuracy, and the opposition knows the same, and so the transition opportunity often winds up being a substance-free exercise.

Jeffries tries to weave his way to the basket, only to be enveloped in discomfort, before passing the ball out top to set up the offense.

Jamison is the master of the unexciting but necessary rebound on the defensive end. You would think Jeffries would have picked up on that by now.

The same goes for Brendan Haywood, another conscientious objector around the defensive glass.

They have to live with the following: Earl Boykins, the munchkin/mascot of the Nuggets, had four rebounds in 24-plus minutes against the Wizards, while Haywood and Jeffries combined for five rebounds in 42 minutes.

That puts them in the company of the dead, for you could roll someone out in a casket, park the casket near a basket and the person would record at least one rebound, if only because the ball at some point would fall right into the person’s lifeless arms.

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