While John Wall is the guy we all will be watching — and the guy who will get too much credit or criticism for whatever happens with the Wizards this season — Nene might be the second most important player on that team.
After years of enigmatic and underwhelming big men in our nation’s capital, with Nene the Wizards have a guy who can defend the rim, is solid defending the pick-and-roll and can score from the block.
Well, he can do it all when healthy. But he battled plantar fasciitis last season, an ailment that requires rest to heal, so playing for Brazil in the Olympics this summer was not ideal. The condition lingers. Which brings us to this tweet from Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
Grunfeld also said the plan is to bring him along slowly, to be cautious.
If the Wizards want to turn their dreams of a playoff spot into reality, they are going to need 70+ healthy games from Nene in the middle. They are going to need other things as well — a steady Wall jump shot, floor spacing shooting from Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza, for a start — but Nene is a big part of the puzzle.
So for him to be ready by the start of the season is a good thing, Wizards fans.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.