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Jameer Nelson, the All-Star. Remember Him?

It must be stated right off the bat that it's a bit ridiculous that Jameer Nelson's value/worth as a player needs to be examined. However, when there is an article suggesting that the Orlando Magic's newest free agent signee, whose explicitly brought in to play back-up point guard, could potentially usurp an All-Star floor general, there's a problem. Perhaps it is the media's obsession with controversy.


Yes, Nelson played poorly in the 2009 NBA Finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers and struggled to make an impact on the court. Nelson should be criticized for his sketchy play. But should that be a surprise? Nelson rushed back after months on the sidelines to play on one of basketball's highest stages, spurred by his desire to compete. Nelson tried, but it was evident that he wasn't the same player that he was during the regular season - an individual that carried the Magic in games on a number of occasions, picked apart opposing defenses with his elite marksmanship, was a leader for Orlando on the court & off the court, and more. Nelson should be credited for having the gall to open himself up to criticism or praise when he returned to play in the Finals. Some players would have played it safe in that situation. Not Nelson.


As a result, people seem to be forgetting how good Nelson was during the regular season, before he suffered a freak injury in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.


Need a reminder?


Click after the jump to see the statistical breakdown.


I decided to take a different approach in showing the type of player Nelson was before he was injured roughly halfway into the regular season. I showed Nelson's numbers in my evaluation of Orlando Magic point guards a few months back, so rather than regurgitate all of the same information, I figured it'd be an effective exercise to compare Nelson to other floor generals in the Association - specifically, Devin Harris, Tony Parker, and Deron Williams. I omitted Chris Paul because he's, statistically, a top five player, as well as a point guard in his own stratosphere. However, the aforementioned players are in the same tier as Nelson so I figured it'd be good to compare each of them.


With all that said, how did Nelson compare to other All-Star caliber players?


Jameer Nelson Devin Harris Tony Parker Deron Williams
Games Played 42 69 72 68
Minutes Played 31.2 36.1 34.1 36.8
1 year adj. plus/minus +6.66 -1.51 +7.99 +5.80
net plus/minus +9.7 +1.9 +6.1 +0.9
statistical plus/minus +4.81  +4.48 +2.19 +2.40
PER 20.6 21.6 23.4 21.1
WARP 5.8 11.1 11.8 11.8
Win Shares 6.0 7.4 8.3 8.5


(I'm aware that Williams hasn't been an All-Star)


It's clear, when using a number of linear metrics, that Nelson should be highly regarded as one of the best point guards in the NBA, today. I stated he "should be" because, as was shown at the beginning of this post, it seems people tend to dismiss the notion that Nelson is a good player, let alone a great player. It is what it is.


Granted, the jury is out with Nelson due to the fact he had a half-season of excellent play (though, I'd argue that Nelson began his ascension during the 2007-2008 NBA Playoffs). Specifically, people are curious as to whether or not Nelson can duplicate his ridiculous shooting percentages this past season, where he ranked as one of the best jump shooters in the Association. Who knows? It's entirely possible that Nelson regresses to the mean, a bit, but it's certainly plausible that he can replicate 80%-90% of his numbers. Remains to be seen, of course.


But if he can duplicate these statistics (via Synergy Sports Technology)?


Jameer Nelson Devin Harris Tony Parker Deron Williams
Pick and Roll Ball Handler/Single 1.03 1.02 0.95 1.00
Spot Up 1.23  0.98 0.94 1.07
One on One/ISO 1.19 1.05 0.94 1.00
Transition 1.06 1.10 1.22 1.06


(numbers are points/possession; all of Nelson's numbers are "Excellent" except for Transition)


Watch out.


All in all, what is certain is that Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy plans to play Nelson more minutes than usual during the pre-season to get him back in the flow of the game, in hopes of re-capturing the production that helped launch the team into the NBA's elite last year in time for the beginning of the regular season this year.


Rest assured, Nelson has been working on his game so time will tell. 


As for Jason Williams, this is the player that's supposed to stir controversy?


Jason Williams (2007-2008)
Games Played 67
Minutes Played 28.1
1 year adj. plus/minus -5.57
net plus/minus -4.0
statistical plus/minus N/A
PER 12.7
Win Shares 2.0


Enough said.