Wizards Playoffs: Nene Speaks on the Haters, Speaks on the Lord
Now, if one picks the Bulls over the Wizards, does that make them a hater? Not exactly. And whether the Lord is concerning him or herself with a particular basketball game remains to be seen pretty much never. (God wants all of his children to win all of their athletic contests, right?)
But it’s not Nene’s words or beliefs or religious prognostications which necessarily matter right now, it’s Nene’s presence. And just maybe what he knows. When asked about most ‘experts’ picking the Bulls to win the series, this is what Nene knew on Saturday afternoon before the Wizards were set to board a plane to Chicago:
“The haters know the past, I know the present, but the future, only God knows.”
Nene’s season, offensively speaking, hasn’t been as down as some might expect (his OffRtg and FG% have been on par with the past couple of seasons; his ability to hit the 16-to-24-foot jumper has improved by 13.7% since last season). But it’s his ability to make teammates better which continues to not need anyone to rise from the dead in order to be proven legit. When Nene is on the floor, the Wizards are 3.2 points better than their opponent per 48 minutes (pace adjusted), which ranks in the top 20 of NBA big men who have played at least 1,500 minutes.* And with his Polish buddy Marcin Gortat (+5.3), the duo makes Washington one of only six NBA teams which have two big men in the top 20 in plus/minus per 48 minutes, pace-adjusted.**
This is more than important, especially as the Wizards head to Chicago to face a physical Bulls team. For the first time since the Bullets featured a starting frontcourt of Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, Gheorghe Muresan, the Wizards have the size to compete with any interior in the NBA.
Now will Nene be healthy? Has he WD-40′d the rust off?*** When asked about the shape of his knee on Saturday after practice, Nene said:
“I’m working, I’m working. Like I said, the whole team is preparing ourselves for the playoffs. We’ll see tomorrow.”
I’ll assume that ‘working’ is a better descriptive verb than ‘hoping’. Nene did say that before he was just walking, now he’s going to jog a little bit, and once he’s in the playoffs, he’ll be running. (Maybe we’ll get the #NeneJig in the near future.)
On if he’ll be in Randy Wittman’s starting lineup?
“Well, the best question is for coach,” Nene said with a sly but unrevealing smile, later indicating that whether he starts or comes off the bench, he’s going to “do what he needs to do.”
And about playing on Easter Sunday? TAI’s Adam McGinnis asked Nene about that.
“For me, it’s when my God gave his life for our salvation. I’m very spiritual. I know he will help who believes in him and who works really hard.”
There’s only one thing left to do.
You know what it is.
NBA Top 20 Bigs in Plus/Minus Per 48 Minutes, Pace Adjusted
- David Lee +9.6
- Blake Griffin +9.4
- Chris Bosh +8.7
- Andrew Bogut +8.2
- David West +8.0
- Nikola Pekovic +7.7
- Boris Diaw +7.6
- Roy Hibbert +7.3
- Serge Ibaka +7.1
- LaMarcus Aldridge +7.0
- Dwight Howard +6.7
- Tim Duncan +6.6
- Kevin Love +5.8
- Robin Lopez +5.8
- Marcin Gortat +5.3
- Amir Johnson +4.1
- Joakim Noah +4.1
- Nene +3.7
- Zach Randolph +3.2
- Marcus Morris +3.1
* Dirk Nowitzki and Channing Frye were not included for basketball reasons.
** Other Top 20 duos: Warriors (Lee and Bogut); Pacers (West and Hibbert); Spurs (Duncan and Diaw); T-Wolves (Love and Pekovic); Blazers (Aldridge and Lopez).
*** Nene appeared in 53 games this season, after 61 games last season, after 39 games in 2011-12, after 75 games in 2010-11, and after a full 82 games in 2009-10.