As followers of a team like the Wizards, we’ve all learned to to look at the negatives of players. Nene is a culprit of this. His contract, occasional inconsistency, unnecessary candidness with the media, and propensity to get hurt and malinger his injuries has drawn the ire of Washington Wizards fans and writers alike. However, we tend to forget that while John Wall and Bradley Beal are the franchise stars, Nene’s presence is just as important as those two. Nene is, in my opinion, the Wizards second best player.
Nene’s offensive presence is his most well-known among his teammates, and many informed Wizards fans. The plays he makes are not reflective on a plain old box score. The first and likely most important part of Nene’s game is his ability to pass the ball. The Wizards often use him as a secondary initiator of offense in the high post, and for good reason. This was displayed perfectly on one particular play against the Lakers last night.
Here we see Eric Maynor initiate a side pick and roll with Nene. Martell Webster is spotting up in the left corner, and and observing Xavier Henry, who is clearly ball-watching here.
When Maynor delivers the ball to Nene, Henry overreacts and tries to go and contest what should be an open mid range jumper, which Nene has been known to take and make in the past. Nene, however, is a step ahead of Henry.
Webster, who is clearly on the same page, sees Shawne Williams come out of the restricted area, leaving the paint wide open, and cuts to the rim. Nene, who diagnoses this as soon as he gets the pass from Maynor, delivers a bullet to Webster, who would go on to make an acrobatic layup. While it ends up being a difficult shot, Nene’s immediate recognition of Henry’s ball-watching and his beautiful pass displays his distributing ability, along with his high basketball IQ.