Dwight Howard Injury to Force Jameer Nelson into the Spotlight

Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Orlando Magic received awful news Thursday when they learned Dwight Howard, their franchise cornerstone center, would require season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. The Magic had grown somewhat accustomed to playing without Howard--he'd missed eight of their last 10 games prior to the announcement--but Howard's surgery ensures they'll need other players to pick up the load, on both ends of the floor, for the balance of the season. No player will feel that burden more than Jameer Nelson, the point guard who shares team captain duties with Howard.

As a point guard, Nelson may not be the most obvious candidate to step up in the All-Star center's absence, but the reasons why become fairly clear upon further consideration. Howard shoulders enormous responsibility for Orlando's offense, as he leads the team with 20.6 points per game, but the Magic simply cannot get those 20.6 points the same way they would if he were healthy, namely by posting up. Indeed, Orlando has hardly posted up in his absence, and even went one game running one post-up in 103 overall plays.

Nelson is Orlando's most proven scorer apart from Howard, and though he's improved dramatically after a slow start--since returning from a concussion he suffered in late January, Nelson is averaging 13.8 points and 5.9 assists per game, shooting 44.2 percent from the floor and 39.8 percent from three-point distance--he'll find his responsibilities increase without Howard. Not only must he run a greater share of pick-and-rolls to find open teammates, but he'll also have to look for his own shot more often than he has. Orlando is Nelson's team, at least until his good buddy Howard returns next season.

Nelson won't have to carry this burden alone--Ryan Anderson will need to step it up as well, as will Glen Davis and Jason Richardson--but as the point guard, it's his task to run Orlando's offense minus its highest-usage player. Striking the balance between facilitating and scoring won't be easy, but Nelson has proven in postseasons past that he can do it. He did that, however, with Howard in the lineup. It's Nelson's challenge to accomplish the same without him.

We invite you to follow Orlando Pinstriped Post on Twitter and like Orlando Pinstriped Post on Facebook.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker