Are Jameer Nelson’s struggles related to trade rumors? Doubtful.
There is no other way to spin it. Jameer Nelson has flat out struggled the majority of this young season. His FG% and points per game average so far is the lowest of his career, including his rookie year when he averaged only 8.7 ppg. Nearly three years removed from his All-Star game selection, Nelson has looked at times this season like he is closer to losing a starting position than making a repeat trip to an All-Star game.
His 3 point percentage is down from 40% a year ago to just 26% this year. His shots at the rim, which have actually increased from last year by 7%, have unfortunately seen an increase in the amount of times the shot has been blocked (13% of shots blocked last season to 22% of shots at the rim blocked this season).
For an undersized PG not known for his ability to defend, this sort of lack of offense or shot conversion is obviously concerning.
Otis Smith, every Magic fans favorite scapegoat, has his own opinion on why Jameer has been struggling and shared it today with the media. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has the full quotes:
“You spend time [in the media] talking about Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but what position do they play?” Smith said. “It’s the same position that he plays. So, it’s not necessarily that he [Howard] is directly throwing him under the bus. But he’s indirectly throwing him under the bus.
“They’re the best of friends,” Smith continued, referring to Nelson and Howard. “They get along. They’ve had their talks about this whole thing. But the human side of it? It still bothers him a little bit.”
A player who has played basketball his entire career based on having a chip on his shoulder. ALL EYES ON ME, his famous tattoo. I don’t buy it. Do I think that Jameer may be a little pissed off inside that Dwight, someone he has been close with since they came in the league together in 2004, has been openly pining to play with a different/better point guard? Obviously. Do I think that is the reason for his ON-COURT struggles this season? Absolutely not.
“I have always been overlooked because I am small, but I always get the job done,” Nelson said. “Don’t tell me somebody is better than me just because he is taller than me. I can do the same things that he can, so what is the difference?” – Jameer Nelson to NBA.com at the Vegas Summer League in 2004
Jameer Nelson is a proud, confident basketball player and has never made any bones about that. Undersized, too small, can’t make it in the NBA, can’t start in the NBA, can’t be an All-Star in the NBA. He has heard it all and answered it all. So why now, after 7 fully successful season, would Jameer let emotions HURT him rather than HELP him.
“I love challenges,” – Jameer Nelson to the Orlando Sentinel in May 2008 regarding matching up with then star Chauncey Billups
I can’t help but wonder why Otis decided to express these specific opinions today. What is there to be gained by bringing up the subject publicly? Is he trying to prod Jameer through the media? Is he trying to rebuild Jameer’s trade value by lighting a fire? Is he trying to further anger Dwight Howard?
It’s hard to imagine that airing speculative dirty laundry would be a tactic to either ignite or unite his players.