Well, no, not really. But Nene’s knees held up for a big chunk of the season, he played 53 games this season, 8 less than last year, but his PPG rose from 12.6 to 14.2 and his PER36 points went from 16.6 to 17.4. His minutes also jumped up a little. He was given a great assist in the post when the Wizards traded for Marcin Gortat and having the Polish Hammer take some of the pressure off of Nene really helped him this year.
In the first round against the Chicago Bulls, Nene embarrassed the winner of the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year award, Joakim Noah. He scuffled with Jimmy Butler and got suspended a game, but if there was a more pinnacle Old Man Game in that first round, it was Nene’s Get Off My Lawn session.
He’s no longer the centerpiece, but with a frontcourt partner in Gortat and a healthy, veteran bench behind him, the need for Nene dropped and he jumped up into that role.
Unfortunately, his machinations have not been perfected. His PPG in the playoffs dipped, he had some terrible shooting against a confused front court of the Indiana Pacers and lost the edge he held against the Bulls. And although he met, but probably did not exceed expectations, he did seem revived.
It’s a sad sign that a player making $13 million a year just meeting expectations gets an award, but the snake takes a while to shed its skin. Nene is still an important part of the lineup and, barring any injury, will likely return to his role as starting Power Forward in the next season.
Tags: Basketball, NBA, Nene, Washington, Washington Wizards