Fact or Fiction presents both sides of key issues the Orlando Magic will face in the upcoming season.
Jameer Nelson will be an All-Star this year.
One of the arguments in Jameer Nelson‘s favor is that he’s been an All-Star before.
In 2009, Nelson had a phenomenal campaign in the first half of the regular season and put up some absurd numbers offensively. For example, Nelson’s True Shooting percentage was .612 percent as a point guard – ranked 10th in the NBA that year.
Nelson was, without question, the second option on offense for the Orlando Magic and able to take his game to new heights with an aggressiveness and swagger not seen before.
For Nelson, that second year jump in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s system was noticeable and it showed in his stats. Nelson was as efficient as they come, though his statistics were unsustainable when taking a closer look at how he manufactured his points. For example, Nelson shot 52 percent from 16-23 feet (league average was 40.1 percent). Nelson’s ability to hit long two’s at an obscene rate fueled his high shooting percentages and landed him on the All-Star team.
Unfortunately for Nelson, he suffered a shoulder injury on February 2 in a game against the Dallas Mavericks and was out for the remainder of the season, though he did make a cameo appearance in the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers as many Magic fans know. Nelson readily admits he was nowhere close to 100 percent in the series.
As a result, Nelson had to shake off the rust in training camp last year and was able to do so in time for the regular season. Nelson even had a standout performance against the Toronto Raptors early in the year. However, Nelson injured his left knee on November 16 in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats and that took him back to square one.
It wasn’t until the second half of the season, after Nelson was able to get some rest at the All-Star break, that he was able to show glimpses of the player he was the previous season. And it wasn’t until the 2010 NBA Playoffs commenced that Nelson was able to perform at his absolute peak.
At his best, there’s no doubt that Nelson is the second-best player for the Magic.
When Nelson is healthy, he has proven he can produce at an All-Star level.
And guess what?
Nelson is fully healthy heading into the season. That’s a key factor.
Another factor is that Nelson’s competition at point guard in the Eastern Conference isn’t fierce.
It’s a safe bet that Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose will be All-Stars at point guard and depending on if one of them is named a starter, that opens up a slot on the bench for a player like Nelson to jump in and take it. Yes, Nelson will likely compete against the likes of Gilbert Arenas and Devin Harris but they are players that will need to prove they can return to form.
It should be noted, too, that Nelson will be competing against other players at different positions if he’s seeking one of the last reserve spots in the East. But one bright side is that the competition will be nowhere as extreme as it would be if Nelson was in the Western Conference, where he would have little chance of making the roster barring a ridiculous first-half performance.
All in all, Nelson has a shot at being an All-Star for a second time in three years.
But it all depends on if Nelson can maintain the same role he had in last season’s playoffs.
With recent news that Vince Carter is being encouraged to be VINCE CARTER, there may be a battle between Carter and Nelson for being relied upon as the second scoring option. That’s a thing to keep in mind when trying to determine whether or not Nelson can be an All-Star again. Nelson needs opportunities to score, or else this entire conversation is a moot point.
And even though it wouldn’t be fair to label Nelson as injury-prone, given that he’s suffered some freak injuries, it can’t be assumed that he’ll be healthy throughout the season.
If Nelson gets hurt, end of discussion.
If Nelson is healthy, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to produce at an All-Star level because again, his role may be different if Carter is being encouraged to be more aggressive on offense.
If it means more shots for Carter, it means less shots for Nelson and fewer opportunities for him to make things happen offensively. That’s where Nelson will make his impact, when it’s all said and done. It won’t be on defense, that’s for sure. Or Nelson could maintain a similar usage rate as last year. If so, can Nelson shoot lights-out again?
Nelson will have no choice but do to so if he wants a chance at being named an All-Star.
Nelson’s margin for error is small. This isn’t to say that Nelson can’t be an All-Star again because he can, but the odds don’t stack in his favor at the very least.