This Year's Nene : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14 | Wizards Blog Truth About

This Year’s Nene : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14

Updated: October 28, 2013

[Truth About player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 — For each player on this year’s roster of 15, we take a look at what’s at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]

Preview Index:

Eric Maynor via Conor DirksGarrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam RubinGlen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. TownsendTrevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle WeidieChris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean FaganMartell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas KubaNene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Marcin Gortat/Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle WeidieJohn Wall via Conor Dirks.

[Nene as a bebe -- original image via NBA/Getty]

[Nene as a bebe — original image via NBA/Getty]


His reputation. Nene stayed away from basketball for virtually the entire summer to heal his body—mainly the plantar fasciitis in his left foot. When the Wizards announced that Emeka Okafor would miss extended time with a herniated disk in his neck, Nene’s restful summer looked even better given that he’d be pushed into extended time (and minutes) at the center position. Then there were minor injury setbacks (he hurt his pinky and his ankle in training camp), a request for a reduction of preseason minutes, and this quote after the first preseason game against the Nets, which indicated playing center would be a challenge for him:

“They played physical with me. Jesus, man.That’s the time I miss Emeka, but it’s fine. You seen Lopez? It seems like [Reggie Evans] been teaching Lopez to hold people on the block. It’s hard to have energy  for him because he just does one thing (demonstrates a hold). Just plays physical. I’m not that kind of guy.”

Complicating matters further, after the Wizards’ preseason game in Nene’s home country of Brazil, he was forced to stay behind and take a brief leave of absence due to family illnesses. Nene really isn’t the type of who makes excuses, but there seemed to be plenty of reasons to expect a challenging season from Nene.

But when the Wizards traded for Martin Gortat on October 25, Nene’s luck seemed to change for the better. Gortat is a natural center, which allows Nene to be the power forward again, and based on his reaction after the trade (he smiled, praised Gortat’s basketball IQ, and commended the front office for addressing the need), this was the personnel move Nene needed. Now the pressure is on the 31-year-old Nene to stay healthy (he appeared in just 61 games last year after averaging 78 games in his three full seasons in Denver from 2008-2011), cut out the incessant complaining to the referees, and be the productive front-court player the Wizards thought they traded for in 2012. There simply aren’t any more excuses.



Interesting Stat #1:

The Wizards had nine victories last March (and eight losses), which represented the most wins Washington has tallied in a single month since March 2008. John Wall also had his best statistical month last March by averaging 22.1 points, 8.1 assists while shooting 48-percent from the field (playing without Bradley Beal for all but six games). Nene also got in on the fun by averaging season highs in points (14.2) and field goal attempts (11.1). Cynics (and with no playoff appearances since 2008, many Wizards fans are just that) could point out that these numbers were accrued in the second-to-last month of the season, and that the Wizards frequently tease their fans with inspired play at the end of seasons. While that is certainly true, if Nene and Wall can lead the team to 17 games in a month, what will happen when you throw in Beal and Gortat?

Interesting Stat #2:

During the past three seasons LeBron James (6’8″, 270 lbs) has averaged 7.8 rebounds. During that same time, Nene (6’11”, 260 lbs) has averaged just 7.2 rebounds. LeBron is the best player on the planet, but Nene should try to close that gap this season.

Interesting Stat #3:

Nene may not like playing center, but a breakdown of his per 48 minute production at center and power forward suggests otherwise:

Player 48-Minute Production by Position

18.7   .474   5.9   46%  11.0   5.3   4.1   1.1   4.6   22.3   16.6
15.2   .489   10.2   52%  12.8   4.8   4.0   1.1   5.4   22.0   18.6


It would be nice if Nene could up his scoring average from last year’s 12.6 points per game to around 17 points per game, but the addition of Gortat should provide the Wizards with a front-court scoring boost, so Nene might not be leaned upon so heavily to put up points. It would be even nicer if Nene could average at least 10 rebounds per game for the first time in his career, but in 12 seasons he’s yet to break the eight rebound-per-game threshold, so that may be a stretch. (I’d be remiss if I did not mention that last season, the Wizards had a net five percent boost in rebound rate when Nene was on the floor.)

What Nene can and should do is become leader of the team. Instead of complaining to the referees about every missed call as he is wont to do (even during pre-training camp practices), perhaps Nene could sprint back on defense or run with Wall on a fast break. Or if Nene grabs a rebound, and Wall demands the ball (sometimes he presses and sprints down the court for ill-advised fast breaks), Nene could tell him to slow it down and run the offense until an advantage appears. These details seem relatively benign and small, but Nene was brought to Washington for his anti-JaValian ways (maturity, leadership, work ethic) and this has to be the year he takes it one step further if the Wizards are going to make Ted Leonsis proud with a return to the playoffs.

More Nene.

John Wall implores Nene to “shoot that sh*t” during the Wizards’ open practice in October:

{video via Adam McGinnis}

LINK: Nene’s noise vs John’s noise 

{via Monumental Sports Network}

[Nene and suit, featuring lots and lots of material -- original image via NBA/Getty]

[Nene and suit, featuring lots and lots of material — original image via NBA/Getty]


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.