Friday, May 18, 2007

Player Report Card: Nene

(Boulder-CO) I had to answer questions about Nuggets management’s decision to sign Nene to a 60 million dollar contract all off-season. Inquisitions ranging from, “Does Nene have a Kiki Vandeweghe sex tape” to “What were the Nuggets thinking” were all thrown out on the table for me to field and I stuck by my guns and told everybody to just tune in to see all the reasons why the Nuggets didn’t let Nene slip away. Boy was I right!

This season Big Brazil was nothing short of worthy of every last cent that the Nuggets shelled out to keep the 6’11”/270lb power forward. Nene averaged a career-high 12.2 points, a career-high seven rebounds, a career-high 57% from the field, and a career-high 69% from the free-throw line. Furthermore in the playoffs, against the NBA’s elite power forward in Tim Duncan, Nene raised his game another notch and averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 77% from the charity stripe.

Keep in mind, this was a player who only played three minutes of the 2005-06 season after suffering a knee injury that eliminated his entire year!

In the early portion of the season Nene was overweight and the extra pounds were holding him down and putting unneeded stress on the knee. Nuggets trainer Steve Hess immediately put Nene on a special diet and the Brazilian Big man dropped nearly 30 pounds as he played himself back into game shape while his numbers began to rise significantly. In November, Nene was only playing 16 minutes a game and was averaging eight points and four rebounds. His post game was slow, his quick and explosive dunking was absent, and his demeanor was just not the same. But in the next sixty days, Nene underwent an incredible overhaul and was averaging nearly 17 points and nine rebounds in over 30 minutes of action by the end of February.

The game that I think best sums up what Nene is truly capable of is the late March match-up with the Detroit Pistons. Big Brazil was absolutely incredible, not scoring his most points of the season, but overall he was a dominating force against another great power forward in Rasheed Wallace. ‘Sheed would have the last laugh as he sunk a 68-footer at the buzzer to force overtime, (not to mention the Nuggets lost the game), but Nene’s box score was astonishing. He finished by playing 47 minutes, scoring 21 points, snatching 17 rebounds including nine on the offensive glass, four assists, two blocks, two steals, and an efficient two turnovers.

With all that out on the table, I truly do believe that Nene is the third most valuable player on the Nuggets as of right now. He may become one of the best power forwards in the game in the next two or three years, but his potential is undeniable as he only turns twenty-five this September. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Nene becomes a 20/10 kind of force in this league by next year. He has all the intangibles that NBA GM’s dream about a power forward possessing. Big hands, quick feet, broad shoulders, and most importantly… an unbelievable work ethic.

And here is another thing to think about before I lay down my prescription for this off-season once the player report cards are finished. With Kenyon Martin essentially un-tradable, do not be surprised if Nene moves over to the center position so the Nuggets can start AI, Carmelo, Nene, and Kenyon after making a move to gain a legitimate starting point guard to round out this team. And as I was writing this, a comment was submitted by Jason who I can tell is already thinking what I’m thinking concerning making a move to make this team a REAL contender next season. But make no mistake; Nene is a cornerstone of where this team is headed.

8 comments:

JM said...

I couldn't agree with you more. As much as I like Marcus Camby, and enjoy his abilities to control a game defensively, with his huge contract looming next year, and Kenyon Martin back 100% (we hope, I still am behind Kenyon), their might not be room for 23. Nene has proven his abilities as a defender, he may not lead the league in blocks, but he is a better one-on-one defender than Camby, which may justify the departure of #23.

I think Kenyon will be 100% this next year. He had the same operation on his knee that Amare Stoudemire had last year, and we all know how Stoudemire did this year. Kenyon is a good defender as well. He will probably start out slow in the early parts of next season (like Nene) but he will be just as powerful and explosive as he was before the injury.

Nugg Doctor said...

JM,

Reading between my lines I see...

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Jason said...

Nugg Doctor,

Good looking out! I think that we are definitely thinking along the same lines. This team needs to do something about the Point Guard position, in my opinion. But it has to be the right point guard. It has to be someone who is bigger, and stronger, and can defend the other teams best perimeter player so that AI does not get exposed. A combo guard might due the trick also, as AI can definitely play PG minutes.

But the big thing is we need a guy that can do three thing: lead, defend, and shoot

And...I just don't see a free agent Point Guard to my liking, so that is what brings me to the conclusion that we might need to trade for one. And who better to trade for than Denver's own Chauncey Billups. A guy that can defend, pass, hit the three, and lead a team. If we were to trade Camby, along with Blake for Billups, I think that might be an attractive package for Detroit IF Billups states that he wants to play for Denver. If Billups never states that, then I think you will not see Detroit give him up. But Camby would solidify their Center position, and Blake could fill in admirably as a point guard.

But...that seems too good to be true, which makes me think that Denver is going to have to look elsewhere. But Camby is an attractive commodity for someone, and I think that Denver must seriously shop him to see if we can get a legit point guard. If you cannot get a legit point guard, then don't dare trade Camby.

Scenario number two is to trade Evans for a second tier type of point guard, someone with experience. Maybe not the most ideal fit, but someone that can lead this team better than Blake.

Good looking out though Nick, I always appreciate your insights.

Go Nuggets, this is a big offseason!

Nugg Doctor said...

jason,

I have a couple of names in mind but do not want to spoil the surprise of what I have in store for the ultimate blueprint of what I think this franchise should do this off-season. However... I will offer up hints to tease you with if you are so inclined to try and figure it out.

This guy didn't have the best regular season numbers, but when his team's star point guard became injured he picked up his game in the last month of the regular season and into the playoffs to average a double-double in points and assists for the playoffs.

Extra Hint: He makes a shade over $5 million.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Pradamaster said...

Antonio Daniels.

Nugg Doctor said...

Bingo. Everybod say hi to my friend Pradamaster from Bullets fever now known as www.bulletsforever.com. So what do you think, Prada? Wanna talk trade?

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor

Pradamaster said...

To be honest, I don't think he'd be a good fit on Denver.

The Nuggets need a point guard who can play off the ball and make people pay when they double Iverson or Carmelo. AD's strength is controlling the ball and getting into the lane. He's always been a really bad perimeter shooter, and he's always been someone who succeeds with the ball in his hands.

Not to mention that AD's contract runs for the next three years, so he'll be here until he's 35-36 years old.

Why trade for AD when you can have Blake for less money?

Stevenson would be a much, much better fit for the Nuggets than Antonio Daniels.

Nugg Doctor said...

I would be interested in AD because he is a veteran PG with championship hardware from the '99 Spurs. The Nuggets need a guy who has been on the big stage and who knows what it takes to bring home the goods. Blake is not that guy.

AD has never been that much of a scorer, but his passing was pretty exciting in the playoffs this year.

Thanks for reading,

The Nugg Doctor