Jameer Nelson is the steady player the New Orleans Pelicans have needed in the absence of Rondo. He has come in and really played a pretty significant role, despite averaging just 7 points and 5 assists–while shooting 37% from deep. But, most importantly, Nelson has a very high basketball IQ and his veteran leadership could go a long way for the Pelicans this year. Nelson looks like he has been playing with the Pelicans all preseason, and I can only imagine it continues to get even better with more time on the court.
While Rajon Rondo is set to return sometime this month, that shouldn’t affect Nelson in any way. Jameer seems to be the pg to run the second unit; Gentry has talked about starting him, and that could still happen, but when Rondo comes back Nelson will run the second unit. Because of Holiday and Moore’s ability to guard multiple positions the Pelicans can really throw a whole lot of different 3 guard lineups out there. I could see a lineup of Holiday, Nelson, and Rondo all on the court at the same time. Nelson’s shooting allows the Pelicans to put him on the ball or off to play with Rondo or Holiday, or both.
Without Nelson, the Pelicans might have started very similar to years past. It’s a little crazy to think about: a guy that was picked up after the season started and didn’t get any practice time could make that much of an impact. But it happened. When the game starts, all I seem to say to myself when the Pelicans are shooting themselves in the foot with unforced turnovers is “please get Nelson in the game”. He calms the team down and just makes the right play, nothing flashy or great but just right. But it is needed.
I hope this same Nelson continues, and with Rondo getting healthy hopefully we can get two of those guys going for this Pelicans team that needs as many high IQ ball handlers as they can get. I look forward to seeing how creative Gentry can get with some of the lineups he can throw out there. Here’s to hoping our three guard lineups work because, with the lack of good wing play, I am a firm believer that we will see a lot of them.
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