In the NBA, there are basketball players, and then there are pros.
Basketball players, while still extremely talented and capable, are typically content within their respective roles. They go out every night, play to the best of their abilities, and go home. Pros on the other hand are relentless, passionate and constantly seeking ways to take their game to the next level. They have the kind of drive and desire franchises can be built around. Arron Afflalo is a pro.
While Afflalo may never make an All-Star team or be a nightly fixture on SportsCenter, he has the kind of work ethic and love for the game that the NBA was built on. He contributes on both ends of the court equally, builds solid relationships with his teammates and is always a pleasure to the franchise and it’s fans.
This season, Affalo will join his third NBA home in five seasons as a part of the four-team trade that finally sent Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. And while some Magic fans felt the trade left a bit to be desired, I’m certain Affalo will have them feeling decidedly different by the end of the season.
Affalo made a name for himself early on with the Detroit Pistons as a player known for his intangibles and lock down defense. Upon being traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2009, though, he was asked to take on a more pivotal role within the teams offense. And he did so, developing one of the league’s premiere shots from deep in the corners, showing an ability to create for himself and his teammates off the dribble, and regularly showcasing a calm demeanor in clutch situations. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of his progression has been his ability to assume a larger role offensively without sacrificing any effort on defense.
Furthermore, Afflalo should continue to see his career-high scoring average of 15.2 points per game last season only increase now that he’s coupled with a very competent and savvy point guard in Jameer Nelson.
A player who will now be given the green light to indulge his shoot-first nature, Nelson should in turn draw loads of defensive attention. If they can develop a rapport early on, they could eventually establish themselves as one of the more versatile scoring backcourts in the league.
With a new head coach, a rattled fan base and so many new faces on the roster, this is a team that will struggle to find it’s identity at times. So look for Afflalo to be a pillar of consistency and for his scoring totals to only continue their upward trend. With any luck, he may also be able to change the defensive culture on a team that has consistently shown an underwhelming effort on the perimeter.
All in all, this is really just a team in desperate need of a foundation and Afflalo is as solid a place as any to start.