Player Profile: Nene

Coming over at the trade deadline, Nene was just what the doctor ordered for the Wizards.

Once he came over in a three-team trade from Denver, Nene played in eleven games for the Wizards. And in those eleven games the Wizards were 7-4.

How did Nene do in those eleven games? Is the 7-4 record a sign of things to come for Nene and the Wizards? Find out below with James Straton and Ben Mehic.

James Straton

I’m going to depart from my usual style and discuss Nenê’s season without referencing any advanced statistics. I’m doing this not to simply challenge myself or test uncharted waters, but to emphasize what Nenê is to this team. He is far more than numbers and statistics – he is the force of personality and solidifying entity that kick started this team’s slow and long awaited maturation process.  The Wizards graduated from a high school mentality when Nenê arrived in town. This coming year, we all hope they can test out of a few credits and graduate college early.

The transformation seemed immediate. JaVale McGee and Nick Young left and it was time to get down to business. Only Andray Blatche remains from the “Gil era” and now no one else on the team has first-hand memories of what it was like to play on those teams. It’s time to do things differently in the District, and Nenê is leading the charge (and taking a few as well).

Nenê’s game is not perfect but no one claims it to be or asks that of him. He isn’t going to block more shots than our point guard or rebound at an average rate, but he is going to compete. All we ask for is some discipline and some heart and he has provided loads of each. The team failed the eye test on a regular basis before he arrived, but regularly passed it afterwards.

In 2016, we might be looking at Nenê as a $13 million albatross (he’s currently the only one under contract in 2016), but in 2012, we were looking at awesome effort in an awful situation. I give him an A for the noticeable effect he had on the team.

Ben Mehic

Who would have thought that Nene would be playing for the Washington Wizards? I certainly didn’t.

After being the most sought after free agent on the market, Nene signed a 5 year contract worth 67 million dollars with the Denver Nuggets. A few months later, he was shipped to Washington D.C for the enigma that is JaVale McGee. I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that Ernie Grunfeld had managed to get rid of a project like JaVale McGee to acquire a dominant big man in Nene. I’ve been a fan of Nene’s game even when he was in Denver. His passing is amongst the best among NBA big men and he has a soft touch that McGee could only dream of having. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked parts of McGee’s game. McGee is by far the superior athlete, but he certainly lacks the skill Nene has. It didn’t hurt to see Kevin Seraphin step up and fill the void after the Denver trade either. It made the deal all that much more special. As far as I’m concerned, Seraphin has had more success in a Wizards uniform this season than McGee has had.

Nene is truly a breath of fresh air in D.C. We haven’t seen a big man of Nene’s caliber in Washington in years. He’s versatile, and above all, he has the will to win. He seems to be on board with the Wizards front office in terms of rebuilding, and he likes the change in scenery. The only concern I had with Nene’s short season with the Wizards was his inability to stay healthy. His foot injuries seemed day to day for the most part, but I’d like to see Nene stay healthy. Ernie Grunfeld took a chance on Nene with his large contract and injury concerns.

I’m glad Grunfeld took the risk. Rookie Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin finally have a big man in which they can look up to. Nene brings a lot more than on-court play for the Wizards. He’s a leader on and off the floor, and drastically changed the culture.

Grade: I’ll give Nene a B. The only reason I’m not giving him an A is because of his health “’issues.”

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