If you haven’t been following the Raptors too closely this season, it’s possible that you may have missed one of the greatest stories in professional sports at the moment.
Jamario Moon is a 27-year-old rookie who had been kicking around just about every minor league on the continent until he finally got his shot with the Raptors this year. And he’s tearing things up. Even though he’s years older than a number of Raptor veterans, Jamario brings the energy of a teenager and the heart of a kid to the floor every time he plays.
Jamario’s story up until this year had been the sad tale of a talented guy who got a lot of bad advice coming out of high school and wound up paying dearly for it. He signed a letter of intent to play at Mississippi State, but didn’t qualify academically. Instead, he played for a year at Meridian Community College, and then opted to enter the NBA draft. (Check out this article from ESPN’s True Hoop blog that talks about Jamario’s early years, including a bizarre trip to Tracy McGrady’s alma mater, Mt. Zion Academy.)
When no one drafted Jamario, he kicked around all over the place, including a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. Last year, playing in the CBA for the Albany Patroons, he won the award for Defensive Player of the Year. That was enough to get him a spot at a Raptors training camp this summer and he quickly caught the eye of team management.
Jamario won the hearts of Raptors fans in the pre-season with his smart, energetic play and solid defence. Fans celebrated when he was signed on the last day of training camp, but few people expected him to get off the bench. Then, after the Raptors got off to a bit of a rough start, Jamario was inserted into the starting lineup. His great play since then has made it look like he’s now gotten a firm hold on a starter’s spot in the NBA. Way to go, Jamario!
People all over the association are talking about Moon, and he’s currently ranked number two in the un-official Rookie of the Year race at NBA.com. For those of you who are big-time stats geeks, you should check out this fascinating article over at the sports/economics blog The Wages of Wins. Using some pretty interesting analysis, the author argues that Jamario’s efficient play will produce about 11 wins this season for the Raptors. Compare that to current Rookie of the Year favourite, Kevin Durant: his selfish play will cost the Sonics three wins this year.
Finally, one more YouTube link, this one is a mix put together by Raptor’s mega-fan “Longer.” (Warning: the backing track by DJ Premier contains some NSFW lyrics.)
The Raptors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at the ACC. The game starts at 7 p.m. and it’s on TSN. Both Chris Bosh (groin strain) and Lebron James (finger injury) are questionable to play tonight.