Nene is the Best (12-year NBA vet speaks on his career-high 30 points)
Nene is the best. Watch the video below and you’ll surely agree. The manner in which he gets so giddy when asked about breaking the 30-point barrier for the first time in his career is quaintly cute.
Heavy criticism has been lobbed Nene’s way, and justifiably so when he is the team’s highest-paid player. Sometimes, he’s called a malingerer, which seems unfair (even if I am one of the guilty parties). Nights like Monday serve as an excellent reminder of what he’s capable of and why expectations surrounding his play sometimes appear to be higher than the output. But credit Nene with more than just scoring 30 points against the struggling Lakers … he’s really been on a tear since telling young Wizards to get their heads out of their butts after the San Antonio game. (Something I touched upon in an article that I wrote for ESPN.com today.)
In the six games since the Spurs loss, featuring four Washington wins, Nene is averaging 19.3 points on 53.3 percent shooting to go with 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Over his first six games of the season, Nene averaged 12.3 points (55.3% FGs), 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Grantland’s Zach Lowe with some national perspective:
Love those games when Nene reminds you, yeah there's the contract and the health stuff, but he's one helluva player.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 27, 2013
“Nene was huge. We wanted to facilitate a lot through him tonight,” said Randy Wittman after the Lakers game. It was already glaringly evident that the Wizards wanted to concentrate on getting the ball in Nene’s hands to run offense out of the post even more with the absence of Bradley Beal (and perhaps something the Wizards should have been doing more of anyway).
“Coach, he spoke to me in the morning and said we’re going to use this strategy, and it worked,” said Nene about plans to get the ball in his hands. “We explored a little bit in the low post, and the low post makes everybody open. And that’s a good read of the coach of a team to exploit [the other team’s] weakness.”
John Wall seems to understand. “We know our team is deadly in transition but whenever we’re not in transition, we definitely want to get the ball inside-outside in a half court situation, because we know we have two great low post presences (Nene and Marcin Gortat) that can score the ball and are willing passers,” he told me. Wall further spoke on the important role that such a strategy plays when games slow down, in particular in consideration of how NBA postseason basketball plays out.
“We know in the playoffs, you gotta take care of the ball and be respectful and not have a lot of turnovers and be patient, and execute,” said Wall. “So we’re doing it in trying to get those guys the ball.”
Nene is the best, and perhaps most importantly, he’s realizing such just as much as his teammates are. Now, there’s only one thing left to do… You know what it is… Your favorite Nene-related Twitter hashtag.