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Just The Sports: Nene, You're No Karl Malone

Just The Sports

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nene, You're No Karl Malone

After signing his six year, $60 million contract with the Denver Nuggets, Nene proclaimed that he "wanted to be like [Karl] Malone." Good luck with that, Nene, since you are no Karl Malone.

There are myriad reasons why Nene is unlikely to mimic Malone's career, starting with the fact Nene has not shown the promise in his early career that Malone showed in his, mostly because Nene has been unable to stay healthy. Malone was able to keep himself healthy and progressed rapidly from his rookie season to his third year in the league. He increased his offensive rating over those three years while also handling the lion's share of the Jazz's possessions, an impressive feat for any player. His defensive rating was well below the league average when he first stepped on the court so that needed no improvement. Nene also improved from his rookie year to his second year in terms of his offensive rating, but saw little improvement from his second year to his third year, which was injury-shortened, and that improvement came in the defense he played. Nene does have Malone's ability to shoot over 50% from the field, but since he shoots much fewer field goals it is simply not as impressive.

Perhaps the main reason why Nene's career will not mirror Malone's is because of the differences in their teams. For the Utah Jazz, Karl Malone was the superstar. The offense ran through him and he dominated the team's possesions and because he was able to score so efficiently, Malone also dominated the games. No matter how efficient of a scorer Nene may become, the likelihood of him getting as many offensive touches as Malone is basically non-existent. This is because the Nuggets already have their superstar, or at least hope they do, in Carmelo Anthony someone who is getting paid even more than Nene.

As if it could get no worse for Nene's quest to be like Karl Malone, he is also has to deal with the disadvantage of playing with a point guard who is below the caliber of John Stockton. Andre Miller is about 60-65% of the player John Stockton was and is much less concerned with racking up assist totals or being an efficient scorer or playing defense. It is hard to point a finger at anything Andre Miller is interested in, but he is probably not interested in helping Nene become the next Karl Malone.


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