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gary neal rookie ranking #5 espn insider

5

2010-11 Statistics G MIN FG% 3FG% FT% STL BLK AST REB PTS PER 31 17.0 .420 .380 .848 0.4 0.0 1.0 2.5 8.1 13.19 View full player card David Thorpe's Analysis December 22, 2010 Dec. 22: Because of the role he plays on the Spurs, Neal will never put up consistent or impressive numbers compared with others in this class. But the importance of his shots and successes will continue to rise with San Antonio hunting for a No. 1 seed. If he can continue to shoot over 38 percent from 3, he'll continue to be a force for the Spurs. If not, they might start looking elsewhere for deep shooting. Such is life for an undrafted rookie. December 14, 2010 Dec. 14: Much of what I wrote about Forbes applies here, too. Neal's game screams vet. Many European scouts had been clamoring for a while that he was an NBA player, and they were right. The Spurs are lucky to have him in the rotation. He's been excellent and consistent from the 3-point line, nailing 40 percent or better in every game except one since Nov. 26. And like Forbes, he also has some weapons in his game beyond his perimeter shooting. He makes half of his shots inside 15 feet that aren't layups, which is an excellent number, and also finishes more than 66 percent of his layups. He is the kind of threat every coach wants and needs opposite an excellent side pick and roll. December 01, 2010 Dec. 1: Neal is fortunate to be in a role he can handle and one that is expertly defined. He's asked to make 3s, be clean with the ball, and give effort when defending. He's doing all three of those things while coming off the bench, playing a role similar to what Courtney Lee did as a rookie in Orlando. And as long as Neal keeps doing what he's doing -- flirting with 40 percent from 3 and averaging less than a turnover a game -- he should keep getting those chances to shine each night. The challenge for Neal is to accept his role, which is easy when you are first just trying to make an NBA team as a rookie free agent with a few years of pro experience overseas. But it gets tougher as the season evolves. All players think they can do more than what they are showing, and it might be true in Neal's case. But it's largely irrelevant, as his terrific team needs him to do only what he's already doing. Trying to do more would be a mistake. November 24, 2010 Nov. 24: A 3-point specialist in San Antonio who reminds me of the Nets' Anthony Morrow in some ways, Neal is proving to be a valuable part of the Spurs' offense. He ranks 26th overall in 3-point accuracy (43.2 percent) and is part of a core group of role players that helps support the big three on offense -- Matt Bonner, rookie James Anderson (who's still hurt), Richard Jefferson and Neal all rank in the top 26 in 3-point percentage. Once Anderson returns, the two rookies will likely fight for playing time, but Neal's overall experience will provide him an edge. The danger with Neal, however, is that he's almost strictly a deep-perimeter shooter (2.8 of his 5.4 shots per game are 3-pointers), so if his shot disappears for a while, his minutes could too. November 17, 2010 Nov. 17: Neal is not shooting as well, nor playing as effectively, as he was two weeks ago. Still, he's made half of his 28 3s and been a catalyst in a few Spurs wins. He's one of the few rookies with a well-crafted role, as a long-range specialist, rare for a rookie but not surprising for him considering his experience. It's only surprising that more teams don't look for players like Neal and Forbes. November 10, 2010 Nov. 10: Playing well is one thing; being a difference-maker for an elite team is a whole other level. Neal looks as if he's playing against summer-league talent, which is good news for him. He made half of his 3s in July for the Spurs, and he's doing the same thing now (12-of-24). Neal also is locked in on defense, which is no surprise considering he spent the past few seasons in Europe. November 05, 2010 Nov. 5: Neal replaced the injured George Hill in the lineup and has been excellent. A pro for a few years in Europe, he has picked up the Spurs' defensive strategies quickly. He's also made 6 of his 14 3-point attempts.

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