Flying Under the Radar: Jamario Moon

Few people had heard about Jamario Moon before his third-place finish in the NBA Slam Dunk Competition, despite the fact that he had started 45 games for the defending Atlantic division champion Toronto Raptors.

The do it all small forward has been an integral part to Toronto's success and has been one the NBA's top rookies this season. While Moon looks like he has finally found his niche in the NBA, his story is even better than his game, and that's saying a lot.

At 27 years-old, Moon has certainly taken the long way into the NBA ranks. After attending Meridian Community College, Moon entered the NBA Draft in 2001 but wasn't selected by any teams. He then started globetrotting, literally. Moon played for the Harlem Globetrotters, then in the CBA, as well as a Mexican league. After years of fighting for another shot, Moon finally got his opportunity after attending a three-day mini-camp held by Toronto. The Raptors loved his energy and effort, and after his long journey, Moon finally got his chance in the NBA and now he knows how blessed he is to be in the NBA.

"That's why I don't understand why people complain in the NBA. People complain like they're not making enough money. Come on, man. If they just went through a month in the minor leagues ..." says Moon, whose $427,000 salary is about 100 times more money than the $400 he used to receiver for playing in lower-echelon league.

At 6'8, 205 lbs, Moon provides a lengthy presence on the court and constantly disrupts opposing offenses. His size and athleticism have helped him become one of the better defensive forces in the NBA. Moon is currently averaging a steal per game and is also leading the Raptors in blocks, swatting away 1.38 shots per game. Moon also is a solid rebounder, as he is currently averaging over 6 boards a game.

Where Moon does struggle is on offense, as he lacks a consistent jump-shot. He is averaging 8 points per game and shoots less than 30% from behind the arc. Although he doesn't quite have an offensive prowess yet, Moon can contribute on any given night by running the floor and finishing plays. Moon displayed his ability to throw the ball down at the Slam Dunk Competition, but he has been known to rock the rim in games too. With the run-n-gun system the Raptors use, Moon has benefited from the high-tempo offense and using his athleticism to his fit in.

Moon has only four DNPCD's (did not play coaches decision) in his brief career, and all four came in Toronto's first five games of the season, one of which was against Orlando. He will have his chance to show the Magic what he can do this Tuesday as the Magic host the Raptors. Moon won't have the daunting task of guarding Dwight Howard, but he will have his hands full with either Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu. For either player to be successful, they must use their slight height advantage over Moon and make open shots when Howard is double-teamed, because Moon's desire and athleticism make it difficult for opponents to do anything against him one on one.

Magic Illustrated Top Stories