11 Games With Nenê In A Lockout-Shortened Season: Why The Wizards Are Better Off Scratching Harebrained Youth For A Brazilian
[NOTE: Truth About It.net 2011-12 Player Reviews continue, where we take a look at the past, present and future of those players who have touched the Wizards franchise during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Today, we go with the second-highest paid Wizard (perhaps not for long once Rashard Lewis is gone). That's right... the guy the Wizards got for JaVale McGee, Nenê. TAI's Dan Diamond and Kyle Weidie take a look at Nenê's brief season in Washington. -Kyle W.]
Player Review Index: Morris Almond (we’d like to) | Andray Blatche | Trevor Booker | Brian Cook (maybe) | Jordan Crawford | Maurice Evans | Rashard Lewis | Shelvin Mack | Cartier Martin | Roger Mason Jr. | JaVale McGee | Nenê | Kevin Seraphin (coming soon) | Chris Singleton | James Singleton | Ronny Turiaf (meh) | Edwin Ubiles (we’ll see) | Jan Vesely | John Wall | Nick Young
Nene: DC Council Ratings
In 6 starts with the Wizards: 2.19 average Stars out of 3
(Nene received eight of 15 possible ‘sub of the game’ nominations in his five games off the bench.)
Best Game: Mar. 21, 2012 – Game 45 at New Jersey Nets
Worst Game: Mar. 22, 2012 – Game 46 at Indiana Pacers
He’s been good. Very, very good—a player who could make the All-Star team, one of these years.
But that’s the catch. Since Nenê’s debut with Denver in 2002, stardom has been just out of reach for the Brazilian big man.
One unfortunate reason: Nenê’s well-documented injuries. (He only played 39 games this year and has missed at least 25-percent of four other seasons.) His 6-foot-11 body gave him size, strength and grace—and cancer, too.
When healthy, Nenê was a major asset for Denver. Sure, he’s not a great rebounder and doesn’t always look for his own shot, but he remained a true big man with reliable post defense, a strong touch around the hoop and proven playoff experience.
Those skills and still extant potential got him a five-year, $67 million contract … even if buyer’s remorse had the Nuggets shopping him months later.
-Dan Diamond (@ddiamond)
The trade of JaVale McGee for Nenê was an unfortunate necessity. Luckily, the Wizards didn’t end up with a complete bag of damaged goods (at least not mentally). And with new Nenê instead of old McGee, Washington is now better positioned to continue the rebuild around John Wall, and not with someone like McGee, who tainted his talent with entitlement in the District.
The $52 million owed to Nenê over the next four seasons? Not such a big deal. Had the Wizards kept McGee, tension would have mounted between JaVale’s (and his mom’s) over-inflated self-worth and fair market price, which would have amounted to another season of purgatory with the most selfish and stupid encapsulation of the word “erudite.” Yes, quite the oxymoron. It was in the best interests of all parties to move on, as the Wizards expedited the essential acquisition of a free agent that they would have had to go after anyway.
But, here’s the issue: the deal that has, presumably, extended the shelf-life of Ernie Grunfeld’s stale tenure is contingent on health. This is not exactly a great-sounding word to sore ears which have experienced the old traditions of a maligned team medical staff with the aspirational new traditions of the franchise’s most recent marketing tag line. The Wizards are hoping they don’t get buyer’s remorse on Denver’s buyer’s remorse.
Nenê will play with a powerful Brazilian National Team in this summer’s Olympics. If Mark Cuban owned the Wizards, he’d be blogging and bitching about the ills of NBA player participation in international competition. The impression is that Ted Leonsis is not so adverse to his players (Kevin Seraphin included) showcasing their skills to the world. Neither is Nenê. After the last game of the season, he was asked what playing in five of the six games of Washington’s season-ending six-game winning streak meant to his preparation for the Olympics. He essentially expressed that many NBA players don’t take care of much in the summer; being on the Brazilian team will help him stay in shape.
So, cross your fingers, Wizards fans.
-Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Since 2009, the Wizards have been stockpiling young players and ditching albatross contracts. Collecting some hope-sos, what-ifs, and a few what-the-hells.
It was a necessary youth infusion that brought few guarantees, which made Nenê a down payment on a future with definition. Now, he’s the only player on the Wizards who would be a clear starter on a playoff contender.
If Nenê’s health goes south, the remaining $52 million on his contract will be tricky to move, and it could then be tough for Wizards fans to watch a much-younger JaVale McGee flashing his potential in the playoffs.
But there’s a reason TAI loved the trade then and is still excited now. Big building blocks are tough to come by in the NBA.
-Dan Diamond (@ddiamond)
END OF SEASON NENE
The talk of Nenê after the Wizards’ final game, a home win over the Miami Heat, and after player exit interviews the next day…
-Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
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