Meet Jameer Nelson

Meet new Piston Jameer Nelson, who was acquired at the trade deadline.

The Pistons traded Willie Reed and the rights to swap 2020 second round picks to the Bulls for veteran point guard Jameer Nelson. Goodbye Willie! We barely knew yee.

Who is Jameer Nelson?

Jameer Nelson is a 35-year-old (very soon to be 36), 6'0 ft, 190-pound point guard hailing from Chester, Pennsylvania. He went to Chester high school, where he led his team to the state championship in 2000. He played his college ball at Saint Joseph's University and had great success right away. Nelson played all four seasons. In his senior year, he led Saint Joseph's to a 27-0 regular season and a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they suffered a buzzer-beating loss in the Elite Eight. Nelson won many players of the year awards in his senior season.

Nelson started his NBA career with the Orlando Magic, where he spent 10 seasons, including time under Stan Van Gundy. Nelson made his only all-star game in the 2008-2009 season, the same year the Magic went to the finals. After 10 years with the Magic, he spent short stints in Dallas and Boston, before spending the last two+ years in Denver and this season with New Orleans. 

Where will he fit with the Pistons?

At the very least, he will compete with Langston Galloway for backup point guard minutes, and will likely win them. He will fill in that role until Reggie Jackson returns, giving the Pistons greater freedom to make sure that Jackson doesn't try to come back too soon. Nelson also will give the Pistons an option at point guard who can both shoot and provide basic point guard qualities. 

The Good

Jameer Nelson is a great guy! By pretty much all accounts, he is a pro who sets a great example and is an excellent locker room guy. For a team that just traded away a couple of good teammates in Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic, that shouldn't be overlooked. He may be an old guy on a team, but he is still pretty young.

As far as his on the court contributions, he fills a hole for the Pistons: he can do point guard things while still being able to shoot. Since Jackson's injury the Pistons have often had trouble because Langston Galloway is a great shooter but his inability to do a lot of basic point guard things as a ball handler has occasionally strangled the Pistons offense, while Ish Smith can do all of the ball handling things needed but his lack of shooting has also strangled the offense at times. Dwight Buycks can score but he isn't actually all that good an off-ball shooter and he hasn't taken great care of the ball either. Nelson should give the Pistons the best of both worlds on offense, he certainly isn't the speed demon that Ish Smith is, but even in his age he can get into the paint and make plays. He is also every bit as good a shooter as Langston Galloway. Nelson is just the sort of veteran with a complete game that he makes your offense run way better. Last season when Denver suddenly transformed into an all-time offense Nelson was a big part of it as his spacing and IQ helped to unleash Nikola Jokic.

On defense, Nelson is old and small, but he is not totally helpless. Nelson is not skinny and is able to use his old-man strength to cause trouble for some opponents and generally plays hard and focused on defense. Once again, he is a pro's pro, and even though he is old he has not totally lost his quickness. Essentially he will not be a repeat of Steve Blake where he is comically bad defensively.

The Bad

Let's be clear about something. Jameer Nelson is not a good defender, he may not be Henry Ellenson, but he is Tobias Harris at best. He brings enough on offense to survive on defense but he is bad on that end. Particularly considering that the Pistons have actually gotten pretty good defensive play from their point guards this year that will actually be a noticeable drop-off. Nelson is old and his size will be trouble in some matchups.

Offensively there isn't a ton to complain about. Nelson has never been an especially good finisher at the hoop and that has been expanded in his age. He's always been a shooter first and now he's a shooter first, second, and third which isn't a huge deal but worth mentioning. The only other downside is that he joins Ish Smith in not always being able to pick out the more difficult passes because of his size. 

Best case scenario

Nelson is plugged in and immediately plays really well, to the point that he pushes Ish Smith for minutes. The Pistons just work better with him on the floor, just as his teams often have over most of his career. He evens out a problem spot until Reggie Jackson returns and then slides back into a purely veteran leadership role occasionally filling in when the Pistons need more shooting. You also continually hear stories about how much everyone likes him and how he pushes guys to get better. 

Worst case scenario

It turns out that he is just too old at this point to be much use beyond being able to shoot, which would make him a slightly less awful version of Steve Blake. Stan Van Gundy is blind to his love of Nelson from Orlando however and continues to play him significant minutes. The backup point guard minutes become an even bigger issue than they have been and Nelson contributes to the Pistons having a disappointing finish to the season. For good measure, the Pistons end up dropping a bunch of spots in the 2020 draft as a result.

The verdict

I think Jameer Nelson is still pretty good. He isn't a big game changer but he should at least help stabilize the bench mob until Jackson returns. I especially like his fit on those units with Blake Griffin which will let him play off the ball more. I would be a bit surprised but not shocked if Nelson ends up overtaking Ish Smith by the end of the year, the combination of offensive potency and history with SVG makes that a possibility. In the end, the Pistons gave up basically nothing for him, but I do feel like this is a pretty decent move. The only downside is that personally, I would've been fine with just letting Dwight Buycks take over the backup point guard spot again until Jackson comes back.

What do you think? Will he play? Can he be effective at his age?

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