Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Player Report Card: Eduardo Najera
(Boulder-CO) Is there another player in the league who gives his team as much as Eduardo Najera gives the Nuggets while giving so little statistically? I don't think so, and that's what makes evaluating a player like Eduardo Najera a thankless task. In one light he looks like a bad financial deal at just under five million last season when considering he gives the team only one point and one rebound per million. But, move the bulb a bit and Eduardo's contributions are of the stuff that wins games for these Nuggets who are often times reluctant to do the dirty work that winning necessitates.
As far as numbers are concerned, Eduardo comes out pretty lean. 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in an average of 21 minutes of burn per game leaves a lot to be desired after 78 games. There are a lot of guys in this league that can give you those kind of numbers for less than a mid-level deal, and what is alarming about Eduardo's game log is how only eight times this season did he have more than ten points and at least six rebounds. Meaning, generally, that when he gives points he doesn't typically give you rebounding and vice versa.
But as I mentioned before, there is a tremendously bright side to"The Grout"'s contributions. I coined him that for the simple reason that he has a way of filling in the cracks of the Denver Nuggets no matter what, where, or when they need it. Be it a charge, loose ball, or my personal favorite tapping out of a long rebound Eduardo just does the little things that don't ever make it into the box score.
Najera also had a surprise for the Mile High faithful this season...
Eduardo unveiled a fairly reliable three-point shot this season and an uncanny ability for hitting them when the Nuggets really needed it the most. In fact, Najera had never attempted more than 15 three's in a single season before the 2007-08 campaign, (while only making a grand total of 14 up to this point in his career) but this year Eduardo attempted 147 long distance calls and connected on 53 of them. Proving again Eduardo's ability to be that utility player the Nuggets so desperately needed when there is no other foreseeable options. Chucky Atkins was supposed to come in and help the Nuggets from downtown this season, but Atkins went down and The Grout filled in.
But for how much longer will Eduardo Najera be a Nugget is the question that awaits answering. Najera is an unrestricted free-agent this summer and depending on how much interest is out there for a player historically low on statistical impact while being huge intangibly is intriguing. Eduardo is entering his ninth season in the NBA and is turning 32 in July which means his days of making five million per year may be through. So, I say that if the Nuggets can keep Najera around for say... the next three years for somewhere in the range three million a year, great. If not, then it's time to say adios to El Grande Chihuahua.
Eduardo receives a C for yet another professional while yet yeoman season, and a + to go along with it for all the upside he leaves out on the floor everytime he sees it.