Basic Stats: 14.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, .50 FG%
Injuries have been all too common in Nene’s career, but fortunately for the Washington Wizards, he was able to produce when they needed him the most.
After missing about two months of action with a sprained MCL suffered during a regular season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Nene bounced back quickly and closed out the season on a strong note.
Washington was able to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference without Nene’s presence due to Drew Gooden‘s emergence as well as Trevor Booker‘s improvement on the offensive side of the floor, but there’s no doubt that Washington wouldn’t have made a surprise playoff run without Nene in the lineup. The Wizards, who were expected to get bounced out of the first round in the NBA Playoffs against the Chicago Bulls, knocked the higher seeded team out in five games and Nene showcased himself against the Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah.
Nene matched Noah’s physicality defensively, but more importantly, completely outplayed Noah on offense. Nene’s ability to knock down the mid-range jump shot with consistency was key for the Wizards against Chicago in the first round, as it forced Noah to step outside of the paint, allowing Nene to not only create offense for himself, but for his teammates. Both players are outstanding passing big men, but Nene got the best of Joakim Noah, which was certainly unexpected.
Though Nene only played in 53 regular season games, he still showed that he’s capable of playing at a very high level against some of the league’s best defensive big men. He was instrumental in Washington’s postseason success and I think that was the highlight of his season from an individual standpoint.
Next Season and Improvement:
Nene took a lot of time off last offseason to rest and recover his body, but that won’t be the case this year as he’ll be joining the Brazilian national team to compete in the Basketball World Cup this summer. I don’t expect Nene to be the go-to player for Brazil, nor do I expect him to play major minutes, but it’s important that he stays healthy and ready for training camp.
At this point in Nene’s career, there isn’t much he’s expected to improve on. With that said, his free throw shooting was atrocious this season at under 60%, which was unusual since he’s typically been an ‘OK’ free throw shooter in comparison to other power forwards/centers.
Unlike Marcin Gortat, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin or even Al Harrington, Nene’s future with the Wizards seems to be safe since he’ll be under contract for the next couple of seasons. He’s shown that he’s able to play at a high level, but it’s just a matter of him being able to stay healthy.
Final Grade: B