Quick Links

Wizards Player Review: Nene


Wizards Player Review: Nene

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.

Quick Links

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

USA today Sports Images

Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Schedule heats up

The Wizards really needed that one on Friday night. Though the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, aren't an easy out, the Wizards wanted to fully take advantage of a soft spot of their schedule. It's tough to lose to the Nets when you consider the road ahead.

The Wizards play seven straight games against teams at .500 or better. That includes a road game against the Raptors, who are tied for the league's best record. They also see the Rockets, the Pelicans twice and play at the Sixers. It all begins Sunday against the Blazers, who are tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA.


Most of the Wizards' games this season have been lopsided one way or the other, and usually in the direction they would not prefer. But they have played a few close games and their most entertaining one happened to come against this same Blazers team.

The Wizards and Blazers went to overtime on Oct. 22 in Portland. The Wizards forced the extra period thanks to a three by Bradley Beal, and they won thanks to Otto Porter Jr. blocking Damian Lillard's shot in the closing seconds. 

The Wizards and Blazers have played some classics in recent years. Markieff Morris beat them with a game-winning three two years ago and last season Beal dropped 50 at the Moda Center. The matchup between both teams' star guards seems to bring the best out in everyone.

Howard vs. Nurkic

Much of the focus in this matchup is always on John Wall and Beal vs. Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there will be a lot of action in the paint with Dwight Howard going up against Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the game and Nurkic, who pulls in 10.7 per game, is a big reason why. Nurkic also averages 15.5 points.

Howard is coming off his best game as a Wizard. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night. He was hurt when the teams first met in Portland.

Both are bruisers around the rim who don't stretch the floor with outside shots. It should be a physical battle on Sunday night.

Quick Links

Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

USA Today Sports Images

Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."