NBA

NBA Picks and Rolls: To the Moon

Jamario Moon: Skywalker
Jamario Moon Photo Credit: The Anetzberger Verdict

The Toronto Raptors’ Jamario Moon has been one of the biggest stories in the league this year. The 27-year-old undrafted rookie went from long-shot to make the roster to a starting small forward to the first contestant announced for the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He was always a gifted athlete and dunker, but it all started to click for Moon in the last two years when he realized that his ticket to the league was the long frame and explosive ups that allow him to play man defense and protect the rim from the help side as well as anyone. In 2007 Moon was named the CBA Defensive Player of the Year and played in the CBA All-Star game as well as participating in the CBA Dunk Contest. Now he’s competing against the big dogs.

Moon’s success has been such a big story in fantasy hoops and the NBA because he seemingly came out of nowhere, but anybody who knew about Moon before this year wasn’t surprised. He may have traveled a longer road to get into the Association than any other player in the league and learned invaluable work ethic while leaving a trail of high-flying heroics along the way. Jamario’s freakish leaping ability always got him jobs (including as a Harlem Globetrotter’s sideshow attraction for shagging alley-oops) after he was completely passed over in the 2001 NBA Draft, but never where he knew he could be until now.

In the next six years Moon made stops with (in order): the Milwaukee Bucks summer-league team, the Mobile Revelers, the Dodge City Legend, the Philadelphia 76ers mini-camp, the Los Angeles Lakers summer-league team, the Utah Jazz summer-league team, the Mobile Revelers, the Huntsville Flight, the Oklahoma Storm, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Rockford Lightning, the Kentucky Colonels, the Rome Gladiators, the Fort Worth Flyers, the Albany Patroons, the Marietta Storm, the Fuerza Regia Monterey (Mexico), the Gary Steelheads and the Albany Patroons before finally sticking with the Toronto Raptors this season.

Jamario Speedwagon blew up as a fantasy commodity in November with his hustle stats; blocking shots, swiping steals and grabbing boards. After a down month of December, he’s back with his finest month of the season in January: 8.9 points, 6.3 boards, 48.2% FGs and an impressive 1.5 blocks and 1.6 steals with just 1 turnover per game. The scoring and rebounding are just OK, but it’s those hustle stats that keep him on fantasy rosters and it’s his hustle on defense that keeps him in Toronto’s starting lineup. On a decidedly Euro Raptors team that has plenty of shooters, Moon is their only true defensive stopper and their best pure athlete. He shows great defensive instincts, the ability to get above the rim in a heartbeat and tenacity around the ball. Jamario can also finish a fastbreak or corral an alley-oop like few people on this planet can…

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