Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY
The final box score for Jameer Nelson probably does not tell the whole story of the offensive performance Jameer Nelson put on Wednesday night against the Bulls.
He finished one point shy of his career high, scoring 31 points on 13-for-30 shooting. In overtime, he had three points on 1-for-8 shooting as fatigue and some hero ball began to set in. So, in regulation at least, Nelson scored 28 points on 12-for-22 shooting. Most players could live with that.
Nelson too has been living with those kind of performances since the calendar turned to December. He has shaken off a slow November to really begin putting on the points for the Magic. Certainly that has come at a time that the team has desperately needed it.
In December, Nelson averaged 14.0 points and 6.2 assists per game. He posted a 27.0 percent assist rate and a 54.4 percent effective field goal percentage in the 13 games he played in December. Through eight games in January, Nelson is averaging 15.4 points and 7.2 assists per game. He has kept up his advanced stats too posting a 37.2 percent assist rate and shooting and shooting 51.4 percent effective field goal percentage.
Those numbers are a far cry from what he did early on in the year.
In November, Nelson averaged 11.2 points and 5.9 assists per game, posting a 29.4 percent assist rate and 49.1 percent effective field goal rate. Nelson was, to say the least, off to a very slow start this season.
"I don't know what it is. Whatever it is, it's the truth," Nelson said of his usual turnaround in December. "You look at my numbers, each year, each month it gets better for whatever reason. high school, college and the NBA, I don't know what it is. I guess I get my legs up under me a little more so I concentrate a little more. I always shot the ball when the opportunity presents itself and the shots are there. I never think I force the shot. I just shot when it's there and it's my opportunity."
This is indeed a very typical transformation for Nelson of late.
Since the 2008-09 season, Nelson has averaged 13.7 points per game while shooting 44.6 percent in November. In December, those numbers skew up to 13.9 points per game and 45.0 percent shooting. His assist numbers jump from 6.1 per game to 6.2 per game.
There is a little something to it as Nelson usually gets better as the year goes on. His best month during his nine-year career is March and April where he averaged 14.1 points per game. Of course, he missed those months (or at least a good part of those months) in 2009 and 2013.
Whatever the trend might be, Nelson is clearly playing some better basketball for the Magic and producing a bit more statistically. Translating those into wins for this team might be the next step for the veteran point guard trying to lead this young team.