Jameer Nelson: From pick-and-rolls to prosperity | Magic Basketball



Jan 07

Jameer Nelson: From pick-and-rolls to prosperity

In sports, we often hear the term “game of his life” to describe a phenomenon where the stars align for a player for one night and he plays to his full potential. It’s a rare event, but when it happens, it’s something to behold.

Back in 2009, Jameer Nelson had the game of his life seemingly every night and it translated into the best season of his career, where he was named a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Nelson was brutally efficient offensively and it reflected in his numbers. His 20.6 Player Efficiency Rating was a career-high. Plus, his True Shooting percentage (61.2 percent) was among the league leaders and buoyed by some obscene numbers — he shot 45.3 percent from three-point range and 52 percent from 16-23 feet.

Nelson had a career year because of the pick-and-roll. With Dwight Howard as his pick-and-roll partner, Nelson punished opposing teams that chose to go under the screen by consistently taking and making jumpshots. It was a phenomenal shooting display that was cut short after Nelson suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder and was limited to 42 regular season games.

Many Magic fans expected Nelson to remain the same player following the 2008-09 season, an All-Star caliber point guard in the same realm as Tony Parker, but that didn’t happen. The law of averages caught up with Nelson and he reverted back to being an average to above-average point guard.

But every once in a while, “2009 Jameer” makes a cameo appearance.

Games against the New Orleans Hornets (28 points on 11-for-17 shooting), Chicago Bulls (tying a career-high with 32 points on 11-for-20 shooting), and New York Knicks (29 points on 10-for-20 shooting) in the last two weeks are proof that Nelson still has the skills that makes him a deadly pick-and-roll player.

What makes Nelson tick in pick-and-rolls is his aggressiveness. When he’s looking for his own shot, as he has been in recent games (out of necessity due to Glen Davis’ sprained left shoulder), the results speak for themselves.


What is impressing so much about Nelson this year is that he is turning into an excellent game manager--a true PG (who of his critics would ever thought of that!). I remember at the beginning of the year, people were getting on Jameer because he struggling shooting and not being aggressive enough.    As I have watched him though this year, especially in the game I saw in person against the Suns in Phoenix, even when Nelson would be struggling with his shot a little bit, he he has been doing an excellent job facilitating the offense and creating ball movement for his teammates.  However, what has been neatest to observe is that it is almost as if he knows the exact time when his team  needs him to be aggressive--"turn on that switch-- and take over games.   And he has done that.  Just look at the game against Portland the other night.  Clutch basket after clutch basket to keep the Magic hanging with the Blazers.

From everything he is bringing to his game this year, I would argue other than the 09' season, this is easily Jameer Nelson's best season of his year.  Scratch that--For what he means and doing for this team, I will actually go out on a limb and say Jameer is having the best season of his career.  What a joy is has been to watch (or hear via NBA Audio League Pass)!  He has improved so much over the years.  I am so excited for the type of mentoring Jameer will do for whatever young PG we decide to draft.   It is going to be such a neat transition.!


Sadly we aren't winning these games but that has more to do with the team as a whole.  If you'd told me Jameer was going to shoot like this for an extended period I'd have said the Magi were on a winning streak.  For what it's worth, Jameer is the player that makes me the happiest when he's playing well so this has been good to see.