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gary neal places 4th on new rookie rankings

David Thorpe's Analysis January 12, 2011 Jan. 12: Neal was quiet against Minnesota on Tuesday night, but he had three straight double-figure scoring games this week. He's cemented into the rotation. January 05, 2011 Jan. 5: What if I told you that a rookie scored 22, 22 and 21 points recently while helping his team beat Phoenix, Denver and Dallas (on the road)? Would you ever guess that Neal was that rookie? Neither would I. But it happened. Neal has really grown comfortable in his role as designated 3-point bombardier -- against the Nuggets and Mavs, he made 10 of his 15 3-point attempts. However, it's the game against the Suns that intrigued me, as he made just 1 of 6 attempts from downtown yet still scored 22 points. Against a team that tries hard not to send guys to the free throw line, Neal made 7 of 8 free throws while also making 6 of 8 2-point attempts. That's called finding a way to be effective, and it's why he'll end up being a very important player in the playoffs in the spring. He's more than just a deep shooter. 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.

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