New Orleans Pelicans: Evaluating Jameer Nelson so far this season

The New Orleans Pelicans and Jameer Nelson seemed like a perfect fit back in the second last week of October. The 13-year veteran has added stability and veteran leadership to the bench.

Back in October, the New Orleans Pelicans waived Jordan Crawford to sign veteran Jameer Nelson for a one-year deal. With the erratic play of Jordan Crawford giving the Pelicans a mixed bag of decent performances, Jameer Nelson has added stability and leadership to the bench.

As soon as he stepped on the floor against the Lakers on Oct. 22, his impact on the team was felt by everybody, including the opposition. Signing him off the waiver-wire after being dumped by the Denver Nuggets should be considered one of the more underrated steals of this season.

His numbers this season don’t really jump out, as his 5.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game are lower than his career averages of 11.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds. Nelson’s point production has definitely dropped off since being regulated to the bench as opposed to being a starter for most of his career.

But the one thing you can’t knock on him for is his professionalism and his willingness to be ready as either a starter or coming off the bench. Just look at how he was signed to the New Orleans Pelicans less than a day before he was suited up to play against the Lakers and helped contribute to their first win of the season.

Productivity

You can say that the signing of Jameer Nelson was an insurance policy if Rajon Rondo wasn’t healthy enough to return from injury. But even with the return of Rondo nearly a month ago, Nelson has still been as productive shooting-wise from the floor. He’s been shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range, which has allowed either Jrue Holiday or Rondo to be slotted alongside him in different lineups.

The one thing that has hurt Jameer Nelson is his health and his playing time, especially in December. In the month of November, Nelson was averaging 25.2 minutes per game and in the month of December is only averaging 22 minutes per game.

You can also add in the two games he missed the other week due to injury and you can see why he’s gone cold this past month. Nelson had somewhat replaced Ian Clark in the bench depth chart but hasn’t gotten the consistent looks and minutes that Darius Miller has enjoyed so far this season.

Strengths

What the New Orleans Pelicans’ coaching staff will need to do is rewatch some of the games that Jameer Nelson has excelled in. Just look at his performance against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 26, where he had 18 points, six assists and four rebounds.

His 3-point shooting (4-of-8) was what allowed the Pelicans to mount a comeback in the first half of the game and eventually nab a victory. A lot of the shots he took were within the offensive scheme and designed specifically for his talents. The coaching staff will need to figure out a way to get Nelson going if they want to improve on their bench play.

The New Orleans Pelicans are currently ranked 28th in the league in bench scoring. They can improve on that if they allow Jameer Nelson to have more playing time on the floor. His skill-set as a 3-point shooter is key for the Pelicans to move up the standings in the Western Conference.