Jameer Nelson: A Perfect Fit For The New Orleans Pelicans
As of now I’m sure many of you have heard the news; Point-guard Jameer Nelson has penned a 1-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. With this new acquisition, NOLA has added both depth and veteran experience to a backcourt that has made breathing seem like a difficult task to perform over their first 2 games of the season. While the signing has not resulted in much of a hubbub amongst the NBA community and its fans, we here at ‘Pelicans Debrief’ believe the addition of Nelson will only benefit New Orleans.
During his 13-year career Nelson has seen his fair share of successes. Best known as Robin to Dwight Howard’s Batman (Superman?) during his tenure with the Magic, the point guard has shown he’s more than capable of playing a sidekick role for the betterment of the team; specifically when playing with a dominant big-man.
Nelson has played a majority of his seasons running alongside the future Hall Of Famer Howard. In their 8 years together, the duo lead Orlando to 6 straight playoff appearances, with one NBA finals in that span. They also lead the Magic to 4 different top-10 PPG averages in the NBA.
And while one may make the argument that all the franchises successes during this time-span was the result of Howard’s dominating play, it would be downright disrespectful in regards to Nelson. During his best statistical season with Howard (2008-09), the point guard put up averages of 16.7 PPG, 5.4 APG and 1.2 SPG. This year ultimately lead to the Magic posting a 59-23 record (4th best in the league) as well as an All-Star appearance for the guard.
Ultimately in the summer of 2014, Nelsons Magic career came to an end as the guard was waived by the organization in an effort to commence a rebuild. It didn’t take long for the veteran to find a new home, for in mid July Nelson penned a 2-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks. With this, Nelson found himself yet again running alongside a dominant, Hall of Fame big man. This time, however, it came in the shape of the 7-foot sharp shooting power forward Dirk Nowitzki. And, although Howard and Nowitzki’s play style differs quite a bit, Nelson seemed to fit right in!
With him manning the point guard position Dallas’ offense managed to average nearly 109 PPG, with contests reaching up to 123, 131 and even 140 points in favor of the Mavericks. With these point totals coming in at such a consistent/ efficient rate, the question at one point actually was “could this be the greatest offense EVER?” Unfortunately, the record setting season in Texas didn’t last longer than 2 months as Dallas traded Nelson, along with Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright, to Boston in exchange for Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell. While the idea was Dallas would be attaining a superior option at point guard in Rondo, thus making the team better equipped to make a championship run, what actually transpired is quite the opposite.
MUST READ: Jameer Nelson Signs 1-Year Deal With New Orleans
Before the deal, Dallas had a record of 19-8, which had them placed near the top of their division as well as owners of one of the best offenses in the league. After the trade? Well, while their defense slightly improved with Rondo, their offense took a “massive hit.” Because of this, the team ended the season with a 31-24 record and an underwhelming 4 game exit in the first round of the playoffs against Houston.
After this, and a few under the radar seasons with the young and rebuilding Nuggets, Nelson finally finds himself back in a position where he can contribute for a potential playoff team. With newly acquired point guard Rajon Rondo sidelined for at least another 2 weeks, the Pelicans are in much need of veteran leadership in their backcourt.
His fit with the team makes too much sense! Now, if you remember, when previously talking about Nelsons most successful seasons in the league, both with Orlando and Dallas, we mentioned one similarity; the presence of a dominant big man. Dwight Howard is a low-post, pick-and-roll barbarian while Nowitzki is more of a mid-to-long range sniper. And again, as previously stated, Nelson thrived alongside both of these styles of play.
This fact should bring a sense of delight to Pelicans fans, for NOLA possesses not 1 but 2 bigs who fit the bill for BOTH of these play styles. For Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, versatility is their bread and butter. The pair can just as easily knock down the open ‘3’ as they can throw it down in the paint. For their career’s Davis shoots just under 30% from beyond the arc while Cousins shoots an impressive 32%.
Only time will tell as to how this new marriage will turn out. However, if yesterday is any indication, Nelson should play a very important part going forward for the team. Although his box score may not jump out at you screaming “great game” (5 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound), it was the contributions that don’t tend to show up on the stat sheet that were key cogs in the teams first win of the season.
Their next contest comes tomorrow in a road game against Portland. Keep an eye out for Nelson, the teams new ‘It’ factor!
Statistics and other information provided by ESPN.com, NBA.com and Bleacher Report.