Jameer Nelson has proven to be Dwight Howard‘s most reliable sidekick in the Eastern Conference Finals as he hit two big threes in overtime of Game 4, and came up big again last night dropping 24 points, five rebounds and five assists. Nelson’s incredible production comes despite the fact that he is generously listed at six feet tall. And Nelson’s height has been a knock on him since his playing days at St. Joe’s. People have said he was too small to have an impact in the NBA, but Nelson has continued to prove doubters wrong.
During his senior year, Nelson racked up every imaginable senior Player of the Year award while averaging 20.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.9 steals per game for the Hawks. He was projected to be a top-10 pick in that year’s NBA Draft (2004), but he fell all the way to 20 where he was snatched up by the Magic (who acquired his rights from Denver).
While people criticized Nelson about his size, he has not let his height deter him from becoming an All-Star in the NBA. Nelson is built like a rock, is a very good defender, and has the shooting and passing abilities that allow him to thrive alongside Howard and in the Magic offense. Along the way to becoming an All-Star and top-tier point guard, Nelson has helped quell the obsession over size that NBA scouts have these days.
Watching the NBA Draft Combine, and hearing all about the different measurements of each player, I had to wonder why such a premium is put on size? I can understand why scouts emphasize size when grading big-men, but when grading guards, it is mystifying to me why they value size as much as they do. In the NBA today, most of the star point guards in the League such as Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Aaron Brooks are all rather short compared to guys like Jason Kidd who possesses “ideal” size for a guard. While having the size to match up with different players and guard different positions is a valuable asset for a player, those that weren’t blessed with the best gene pool shouldn’t be marked down because of it.
Size matters to an extent, but when a player of Nelson’s skill falls to 20th in the Draft and then goes on to a great career, it should be a warning sign to GMs that not everyone has to be the strongest or the tallest. But everyone needs talent, and Nelson has plenty of that.
What do you think?
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