Gary Neal didn't have the best start to the season. After making a name for himself during last year's NBA finals with the Spurs as a three point shooter off the bench, Neal signed a new contract over the offseason with the Milwaukee Bucks. This would turn out to be a nightmare for both parties involved. Neal only played 30 games in Milwaukee and spent his entire time there disgruntled about his playing time and the growing amount of losses.
During his time in Milwaukee, Neal put up career low numbers. An effective field goal percentage of 46 percent was particularly troubling. While Neal was never known for his efficiency, he was still contained enough to not be too much of a negative. With Milwaukee whenever Neal entered the floor he would just fire up shots to the tune of 39 percent shooting from the field.
Neal was freed from the team he didn't want to be on via a midseason trade to Charlotte. Neal was in a much better situation in Charlotte and was able to help the team more with his shooting ability to help the Bobcats space the floor. In Charlotte, Neal had an eFG% of 51 percent and shot 43 percent from the field. He was still attempting a large amount of shots but they were more within the offense than they were previously in Milwaukee which was fire 'em while ya got'em.
The trade for Gary Neal was an interesting one in that it helped the Bobcats despite a downgrade.
When Neal came to Charlotte it was to replace the 6th man role that Ramon Sessions had been playing previously. Sessions is a better player than Neal in my opinion but Neal's skill set helps the Bobcats more than Sessions does. Neal's long range shooting ability brought spacing and a layer to their offense that the team didn't previously have with Sessions.
The question with Neal many were asking when the trade happened was whether Neal could help the Bobcats more than Sessions did. I'd say yes to that. His three-point shooting created valuable spacing, which could keep defenders from cheating off him to focus on other players. However, just because Neal helps that does not mean he was an awesome player. Neal is a gunner in the truest sense of the word. When he gets the ball his first, second, and third options are to shoot. This was at times harmful to the offense when Neal would take the ball, dribble around, and then fire up a contested shot with 13 seconds still on the shot clock. He was notorious as the season went on for stretches of boneheaded moments that left everybody scratching their heads as to why he just did what he did.
The negatives aside and the positives noted, when Neal entered the game there wasn't panic or worry. He was far from a bad player this season. He just wasn't exactly a good one. He was average.
While it's never going to happen, it would be nice if Gary Neal would improve his shot selection and abandon the gunner mentality. He's a good shooter. He's not a great enough shooter to legitimize shooting as much as he does sometimes. If he could cut that back and be more selective, his percentages would go up and possibly his numbers as well.
Gary Neal receives a C+ for his very average season. He didn't play bad, but he wasn't exactly good. But his floor spacing ability gave the Bobcats an extra layer they needed so he gets some extra points there.