This is the first installation of what’s going to become a semi-regular feature on this site. I’ll take something that I love—but is generally reviled or pooh-poohed by others—and defend it.
The series begins with Jameer Nelson, the point guard for the Orlando Magic. As most of you know, I attended Saint Joseph’s University at the same time as Nelson, so I may be biased. But there simply isn’t a more-improved player in the NBA this year, and he should be an All-Star.
(The final selections for the squads will be named tonight, so we’ll see if he gets his due.)
It’s true the Eastern Conference is loaded with deserving guards, and since Allen Iverson already stole one of the starting spots, there are only two or three more spots available.
And while New Jersey's Devin Harris and Vince Carter, Atlanta's Joe Johnson, Boston's Ray Allen, and Cleveland’s Mo Williams are all having All-Star type seasons, no one deserves a spot in this year's game more than Nelson.
He’s averaging a career-best 16.9 points per game—up from 10.6 last season, and top 20 in the Eastern Conference— and dishing out 5.3 assists. His 50.6 field-goal percentage is seventh in the conference, and he’s making over 44 percent of his three-pointers.
It’s true that the 33-9 Magic get most of their three point opportunities because of double-teams Dwight Howard draws in the paint, but Nelson still has to make the shots. His control of the game tempo is a great part of the team’s success, and Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis know it.
I have never been the biggest fan of professional basketball (Globetrotters aside), but this year’s Magic team has turned me into someone who actually watches TNT for something other than Charmed reruns. Plus, watching the Knicks in college always made me shiver.(FYI- I just found that picture. I do not have it taped to the ceiling above my bed, or glued to the inside of my Trapper Keeper, or in a locket around my neck, right next to my heart, where it would belong.)
UPDATE: Nelson was named as an All-Star reserve last night. I can only assume it was because of my post.