On Wednesday TAI wondered if it was time to start Nene, minutes limit be damned. Nene didn’t start that night in Orlando, the second of a back-to-back after playing against the Hawks on Tuesday night, and the Wizards got blown out. Nene didn’t play at all on Friday night in Detroit — perhaps partly due to a cold that’s been going around, partly due to the rest that his perpetually sore foot needs — and the Wizards still got blown out.
Tonight, after appearing in 12 of the 15 games since his return, Nene will make his first start of the season for Washington. He will join Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal (who also returns after missing the last two games due to a sore back), Martell Webster, and Emeka Okafor. Nene’s impact, even in limited minutes, continues to be profound. In 261 minutes over 12 games, he leads the Wizards with a total plus/minus of plus-36. Only one other Wizard has a positive plus/minus on the season, Cartier Martin (plus-32 in 294 total minutes). Also watch the Nene-Okafor pairing — they’ve appeared on the court for 42 total minutes this season to the tune of plus-32.
Before the game, TAI spoke with Pistons Coach Lawrence Frank about the impact of Nene and how he conveys that to his players after they beat the Wizards, without Nene, by 32 points last night.
“A total difference maker,” Frank called Nene, also denoting him as one of the “better low post scorers in the league (plus off the elbow).”
“Plus, he brings an energy, a dynamic… You know, there’s a reason why he’s getting paid the amount of money he’s paid. So you’re right, he is a difference-maker.”
Randy Wittman also spoke about Nene’s impact.
“That should start registering… That we need all guys on board and playing the right way. That’s a simple as it gets,” said Wittman, all but throwing his hands up.