Over the next week or so, Josh Robbins and I will evaluate the 2012-13 seasons of each player who finished on the Magic roster.
Our series taking a look at all 14 players continues:
Position: Point guard
2012-13 stats: 35.17 mpg, 39.2 fg%, 34.1 3p%, 87.3 ft%, 14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 7.4 apg
Background: Defying his small stature, Nelson was largely recognized as the college player of the year in his senior season at St. Joseph’s. The Magic acquired him in the 2004 draft after making a deal with the Denver Nuggets, pairing him with the high school player of the year, No. 1 overall pick Dwight Howard. Now currently the club’s longest-tenured player, Nelson is a co-captain (with Glen Davis). Next season will be his 10th in the league. Nelson was named to the 2009 All-Star team, but could not participate because of a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Strengths: Nelson has proved to be one of the toughest and most aggressive players in franchise history, battling through various injuries during his career. His skill-set is more suited for work as a shooting guard if he were taller, but he has become a heady playmaker over the years. He can hit clutch shots and has often carried Orlando’s offense in stretches with big games, despite playing with the likes of Howard, Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter.
Needs to improve: Nelson has always struggled on the defensive end, especially in one-on-one matchups, and he will turn 32 next season. He is still is prone to turnovers. He averaged 2.8 turnovers per game and shot 39 percent last season, but those career lows could be attributed, in part, to playing with a different and younger cast of players.
The future: Nelson signed a three-year, $25.2 million deal before last season to return to the Magic (although the third year is non-guaranteed). He wants to remain in Orlando through the rebuilding process, but the club could deal him – or other veterans -- to save cap room. It appears Nelson will remain the starter, even if the Magic draft a point guard such as Trey Burke out of Michigan. But at some point, the Magic will need to find Nelson’s successor.