Monday, May 14, 2007

Player Report Card: Eduardo Najera

(Boulder-CO) Often times when Coach George Karl went to his reserves it was Eduardo Najera whom he called upon first to spark the Nuggets. He doesn’t make many highlight reels, but more importantly, he makes the play that needs to be made and keeps the mistakes to a minimum. Furthermore Eduardo is a throwback kind of player who doesn’t need much praise and one who comes to the gym with his hardhat and lunchbox.

Najera posted averages of 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds while appearing in a career-high 75 games with a career-high 36 starts. His season-high point total was 18 and he grabbed eleven boards twice in December.

My take on the game of Eduardo is this; while he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He also doesn’t make much of a statistical impact either. Sure he is good for a couple of long rebound tap-outs, a charge or two, and some reverse lay-ups in almost every game, but my only gripe about Najera, or should I say the Nuggets, is that he is often times called upon too early and asked to do too much. In my honest assessment, he is a guy that should be coming off the bench third, fourth, or even as far down as fifth for the Nuggets as a fire starter and an emotional boost late in the first quarter.

However, I will say that as a fire starter or an emotional booster he is one of the guys that did pick the Nuggets out of the gutter on more than a few occasions. The manic Nuggets have a pattern of falling asleep at the wheel in the second and third quarters and Eduardo Najera, on numerous occasions, was the guy that dove into the stands for loose balls, took a charge, or set a strong screen that resuscitated any resemblance of emotion back into the Nuggets. Maybe that’s why he has found a cult following in Denver?

The only other obvious problem that I can point to with Eduardo Najera is that he is too small to handle a strong power forward in the blocks and too slow to guard a bouncy small forward. In this regard, he is a bit of a ‘tweener. Other than that you have to love the hustle, dedication, and workman mentality that he brings to the team. He is a guy who you never have to worry about being in a negative light in the media. If anything, he might be a touch too nice and soft spoken!

Eduardo Najera earned $4,571,428 in salary for 2007. This makes him one of the more costly role players the Nuggets currently have on the roster, and with the looming salary cap nightmare on the horizon in addition to the development of Linas Kleiza, don’t be surprised if Eduardo is traded this off-season purely to create some financial maneuverability and to open up some playing time for LK.

1 comment:

ThaAnswer said...

Great news for Melo......

New daddy and NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony has something else to be proud of...he is listed number 8th in the Giving Back Fund list of
the celebrities who have made the largest personal public donations to charity in 2006. Oprah surprisingly tops the list, but Melo has beat out the saintly Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Go Melo!!