The argument for bringing Nene off the bench

The argument for bringing Nene off the bench
December 20, 2013, 10:45 pm
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Wittman pleased with effort in win

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The Wizards will continue monitoring Nene's minutes as the Brazilian big man plays through a sore right foot. That likely means coach Randy Wittman will bring Nene off the bench in Saturday's matchup at Boston.

The assumption is Wittman eventually returns the power forward to his rightful slot in the starting lineup. Perhaps it would be wise to consider leaving the rotation as is for the sake of Nene's season - and Trevor Booker's confidence. Kevin Seraphin's as well.

*Realistically, Nene's minutes will/should be monitored for the remainder of the season. He's on pace to miss around 22-24 games already. It's been well established that the Wizards aren't a winning bunch without him.

*Nene is averaging 32.1 minutes per game, his most since the 2009-10 season. In the nine games before his foot injury forced him to the sideline, he averaged around 36 minutes. While there can be targeted spots for extended work, the ideal for now should be in the 28-32 range. Keeping Nene out of the opening lineup should automatically limit the temptation to play him extensively and ensure he's fresher in the fourth quarter.

[RELATED: Washington facing former Wizard Jordan Crawford]

*Starters and reserves play together, but should Wittman swap out five for five, the only consistent offensive threat on the second unit would be Martell Webster. That changes with Nene in the mix. Better bench production means the less Wittman has to grind with John Wall and the oft-injured Bradley Beal.

*Nene can also serve as the de facto floor general with Washington running its offense through the perceptive big man. Garrett Temple's turn as the true backup point guard has been solid, but ultimately he's more of a complementary piece rather a dominant ball handler.

*Booker has flourished during this recent five-game stretch in Washington's starting lineup, averaging 12.2 points and 10 rebounds including per game of the offensive glass.

*The rugged fourth-year forward has played 16 games this season split evenly as a starter and reserve. His shooting percentage in both roles is not a mirror image; 56 percent as a starter, 42 as a reserve.

*Why the disparity? For starters, serving as starter keeps Booker's confidence up and him from getting lost in the rotation shuffle, something he, Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Chris Singleton have all experienced under Wittman. In addition, his offensive skill set is that of a secondary scorer which works out well playing alongside Wall, Beal, Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat. With the reserves, Booker must look to score. With the starters, he can focus on offensive rebounding and running with Wall..

[RELATED: Previewing Washington's Saturday matchup against Boston]

*Back to Nene, who has long been a big brother type for fellow big man Seraphin. The duo played together extensively in Wednesday's win over Brooklyn. Not coincidentally, Serpahin generated arguably his most competent game this season. Both can shoot and play on the high or low block, but paired with Nene allows Seraphin to attack the glass and be the recipient of passes rather than being the one having to make a shoot or pass decision.

There you go, some reasons to keep Nene coming off the bench. Will it happen? Eh, unlikely seeing as the norm is putting your best players on the court from the start. Besides, Wall and Beal are better with Nene. Who isn't? However, for the purposes of minimizing Nene's injury risk and maximizing Booker and Seraphin's production, staying with the current lineup for now is worth considering.

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