Since acquiring Nene two years ago, the Washington Wizards have gone 60-61 when he plays and 8-34 when he doesn’t. In their scheme, he’s a steadying force on both ends of the floor, practically essential to their success.
Needless to say, with Nene out four to six weeks, the Wizards will almost assuredly use their open roster spot on a big man. They can’t just skate by on what they have.
Most likely, it seems that big man will be Drew Gooden. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
NBA free-agent forward-center Drew Gooden is expected to sign a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards following the loss of Nene, sources told Yahoo Sports.
J. Michael of CSN Washington confirmed Gooden is the most likely free agent the Wizards will sign, but Michael also says Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin will be more instrumental in replacing Nene. Booker started when Nene missed games earlier this season, but Seraphin played every meaningful minute after Nene got hurt in the third quarter of Washington’s win over the Cavaliers on Sunday, and Booker played none of them.
Seraphin can produce the offense lost without Nene, who averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, but where the Wizards tend to suffer without him is their basketball IQ as they like to play through the Brazilian in the low post.
Booker can provide better defense and make the hustle plays, such as drawing charges, but he is undersized. Wittman likely will have to mix and match his lineups and hopefully find the personnel that works best.
With Washington’s other starters – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gorat – the lineup has meshed with Nene, underwhelmed with Booker and excelled with Seraphin (albeit in extremely limited minutes).
Nene (37 games 482 minutes):
- Offensive rating: 106.4
- Defensive rating: 95.7
- Net rating: +10.7
Booker (25 games, 242 minutes):
- Offensive rating: 101.9
- Defensive rating: 105.4
- Net rating: -3.5
Seraphin (5 games, 18 minutes):
- Offensive rating: 117.0
- Defensive rating: 52.5
- Net rating: +64.5
There’s no clear-cut best option for Washington. Gooden provides another chance for someone to click, but he was terrible with the Bucks last season. At 32, he can no longer be counted on.
The Wizards are 28-28, and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs was definitely within their grasp before Nene’s latest injury. Overtaking the 29-26 Bulls – and holding off all challengers – will be an uphill battle now.
Figuring out when to play Booker and when to play Seraphin will be key for the Wizards down the stretch. If Gooden provides anything, that’s just a bonus.
Really, Washington is treading water until Nene returns – hopefully in time for the playoffs.