Friday, May 23, 2014

Examining Jameer Nelson's 2013-2014 Magic Season

Over the course of the Magic's offseason, leading up to the NBA Draft, I'll be analyzing all of the Orlando players that are still on the roster and how they did in their 2013-2014 campaign. I'll be going in ascending order based on games played. I won't be assigning grades or scores.

Previously in the series:

Tobias Harris
Nikola Vucevic
Doron Lamb
Jason Maxiell
Ronnie Price
Dewayne Dedmon

Let's take a look at Jameer Nelson.

It's a rare feat in this age of the NBA to have played your first 10 seasons in the league with one franchise, but that's what Jameer Nelson has done. 'Mighty Mite' played and started in 68 contests in his tenth Magic season. His 7.0 assists per game average weren't a career-best, but it was good enough for 8th-best in the Association. Jameer embraced putting his scoring average on the backburner in order to dish out gems to his teammates. It's a good thing too because Nelson's 39.4 FG% was only 0.2% better than his career-worst shooting average last year. 

Nelson is no longer the perimeter weapon he once was which - combined with his nonexistent defending - makes him very expendable. Jameer only scored 20+ points three times all season. One of them was a 31-point game in that January triple-overtime thrilling loss to the Bulls. Nelson fell one point shy of matching his career-high. Nelson has never recorded a triple-double in the league, but he came mighty close on a few occasions. Jameer notched six double-doubles which give him a career tally of 41 presently. 

Jameer missing 14 games this season was actually quite decent for the oft-injured guard. Some of those games were just pure rest days to give Victor Oladipo more ball handling time. He had a few knee banging incidents as well. Jameer missed the final 3 home games with an apparent groin injury. That meant the only cheers the Amway Center crowd could give for him on the season finale were reserved for when Jameer addressed Magic fans with a microphone. That may have been the very last time Orlando saw Jameer as a member of the team. Nelson at exit interview day said that the '13-'14 was the healthiest campaign he went through in a few years. I believe him. You could also see in his face that his days in O-Town appear to be numbered.

So what does Rob Hennigan do with Jameer? Nelson has one more year on his contract that would pay him $8 million in '14-'15. However, if the Magic waive Jameer before July 15th then Nelson would only receive $2 million. Even if the Magic waive him, Jameer can still sign a new deal with the franchise he's always been with. I can't imagine there are more than a small handful of NBA teams that would welcome Jameer being a starter on their teams. If Nelson can embrace a support role, then a multi-year deal at around $3.5 million per season is a possibility that should be explored. It would be nice if Jameer retired in Orlando.

Where does Jameer stand as far as franchise records go?
#1 in Assists - 3,501 (Scott Skiles at #2 - 2,776)
#2 in Games Played - 651 (Nick Anderson - 692)
#3 in 3-Pointers Made - 874 (Nick Anderson at #2 - 900)
#4 in Field Goals Made - 3,109 (Shaq at #3 - 3,208)
#4 in Points - 8,184 (Tracy McGrady at #3 - 8,298)
#4 in Defensive Win Shares - 18.3 (Horace Grant at #3 - 18.5)
#5 in Steals - 619 (Dwight Howard at #4 - 626)
#6 in Offensive Win Shares - 24.8 (Nick Anderson at #5 - 28.1)
#6 in Total Win Shares - 43.0 (Penny Hardaway at #5 - 46.3)
#6 in Defensive Rebounds - 1,705 (Hedo Turkoglu at #5 - 1,851)
#8 in Total Rebounds - 2,038 (Tracy McGrady at #7 - 2,067)
#9 in Free Throws Made - 1,092 (Darrell Armstrong at #8 - 1,156)

I have great respect for what Jameer has been able to accomplish in his 5'10"-ish frame, but Nelson can't be starting for the Magic any longer. Not if Orlando is focused on winning. Either Jameer accepts a smaller salary to be a backup point guard in Orlando, or the 32-year-old will have to seek a new employer. Whether #14 returns or not, it's imperative that the Magic draft a point guard on June 26th. 

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