The importance of John Wall’s health to the Washington Wizards has been well documented, but Nene’s inability to stay healthy continues to fly under the radar.
The Brazilian big man has built a reputation of not being able to contribute to his respective teams over the years, but relatively speaking, Nene has been able to participate in the vast majority of games during his time with the Denver Nuggets just a few seasons ago. At 30 years old, Nene has logged a ton of minutes during the course of his career and injuries have ultimately became an inevitability.
Nene missed a large chunk of games this past season due to plantar fasciitis in his foot and various other nagging injuries. Although it was a small sample size, the Wizards sported a win/loss record well above .500 when John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Nene were all contributing factors to the games.
Washington has done a decent job addressing some of their needs this offseason, but I think it’s quite clear that both John Wall and Nene are irreplaceable. Both of their impacts on the game go far beyond statistics, as they’re both viewed as leaders on and off the floor. After getting shipped from Denver to the nation’s capital in exchange for JaVale McGee, Nene immediately changed the locker room culture in Washington.
Every team, especially a club finally leaving behind the stressful rebuilding stages, needs a leader who takes command in all aspects of the game. When healthy, Nene is undoubtedly one of the most versatile bigs in the league since he has both the abilities to play in the post and shoot the midrange jump shot. Nene’s impact distributing the ball and on team defense has been far undervalued, but it all becomes easily noticeable once he’s off the floor.
Thankfully, the Wizards’ brass seems committed to helping Nene get healthy this offseason and hopefully ready by the start of training camp.
Randy Wittman on Nene: It’s important for him to do what he has to do so when he comes back here at the end of September that he’s ready to go. There are no restrictions. He’s doing great. He’s felt as good as he’s felt in a long time.
The Eastern Conference has gotten a lot stronger this offseason, and Nene’s health has become a key factor in Washington’s playoff hopes. Since Nene isn’t expected to play a ridiculous amount of minutes this upcoming season, the Wizards are hoping the addition of Al Harrington along side the development of Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely, and Trevor Booker will get them through the season.
As the season grows closer, Washington will continue to keep a close eye on Nene’s health because his value to the Wizards goes far beyond what is stated.