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.