Even though it was a small-sized sample, injust the shorttime Nene was on the court for the Wizards, his impact was felt and certainly creates optimism for the team looking ahead to next season.
When healthy, Nene provided a steady low-post presence, something the Wizards have lacked for years. Defenses had to focus on Nene,givingteammates like guard John Wall less of an I got to do it all on my own mentality on offense.
Simply, Nene gave the Wizards a better chance to win when he wason the floor. When Nene played, the team's record was 7-4. When he was out of the lineup, due to a foot injury, the Wizards were 4-7.
Nene played in just those11 games for the Wizards with 6 starts andaveraged 14 points and 8 rebounds. He missed 11 games with the Wizards because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
That's a huge question mark going forward -- canNene stay healthy?
When not hobbled, Nene obviously can be a major factor. After coming over from Denver in a trade deadline deal, the 6'-11" center made his mark right away, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his debut as the Wizards beat New Jersey in mid-March.
Nene scored 16 points, had 8 rebounds and 4 assists in a much-needed victory over playoff-bound Philadelphia in late March that stopped a 6-game losing skid for Washington.
After missing 10 games in early April, Nene returned from injury to help the Wizards go on that six-game win streak to close out the season. Nene had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks over the Bobcats and closed out the season with 15 points and 7 boards versus Miami.
Nene and Wall had some nice flashes of executing the two-man game, including a brilliant pick-and-roll with Nene settinga high screenrolling to the basket and getting a spoon-fed pass from Wall for a game winner, basically at the buzzer, against Miami. It was a thing of beauty.
Wall, in fact, credited not only his success but the team's success to the arrival of Nene. Wall pointed to Nene's locker-room presence and leadership as a key factor for the team playing inspired basketball the final month of the season when they were playing solely for pride and not the playoffs.
If Nene can stay healthy -- and we all know that's a big if -- then the future is bright in the middle for the Wizards.