Easily the biggest question mark of the year, going in. How many games would Peja play? Was Ryan Bowen seriously going to be the first forward off the bench? How about that Vinicius guy? (note: Julian Wright is under SG's. Mo-Pete said he felt lonely :) Well, Peja stepped up big time, and the first forward off the bench ended up being someone not even on the preseason roster- Bonzi Wells. A game-by-game look at Predrag and Gawen, via Hollinger Game Score. As usual, there's a 5 game moving average (yellow line) and high, low, average, and standard deviation Game Score up top. Click for larger:
Best Game: November 6th @ LAL. Peja had some terrific games, but this is an easy call. He drilled a franchise record 10 threes on just 13 attempts, fueling a franchise record 21 assist night for Chris Paul. And even though he was getting assisted, these weren't easy triples; he drilled 'em with hands in his face, after pump faking defenders off their feet, with tall, lanky defenders like L. Odom running at him at full speed. He finished with 36 points in 38 minutes as New Orleans crushed Los Angeles in Staples.
Trends: Consistency defined. Peja's season seems to be marked by two very obvious trends. For the first half, there's a definite increase in Game Score until a sudden drop. Then, he heated up once more, just in time for the playoffs. With an average Game Score of 11.2, he finished just a lick below Tyson Chandler (11.9) for 4th on the squad.
Best Game: March 19 vs. HOU. Bonzi Wells got a chance to show Houston what they'd given up, and he made the most of it. With 25 points on 9 of 12 shooting, he burned the Rockets, including outscoring them single-handedly in the 4th quarter. The Houston game was part of a great stretch of basketball for Wells; the game before, he scored 19 vs. Chicago, and the game after, he recorded 8 thefts vs. Boston.
Trends: Wells peaked in that aforementioned stretch, only to collapse badly as the season went on. The yellow line above tells the entire tale- going into the playoffs, Bonzi was playing some bad basketball.