In a season of resurgence, the Wizards have just been dealt a potentially devastating blow. After receiving a MRI Monday, Big man Nene has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a left knee sprain. When Nene, an 11th year vet, struggles with injuries the Wizards usually follow suit. Since acquiring Nene in 2012, the Wizards are 60-61 when Nene plays and 9-34 when he doesn’t. That is a monstrous disparity and could spell trouble for the Wizards going forward. Nene’s contributions this season have been invaluable, averaging 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game this season. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Nene gives the Wizards much needed height and leadership alongside center Marcin Gortat.
In response to Nene’s injury, the Wizards have signed veteran forward Drew Gooden to a ten day contract giving them some much needed front court depth. Coach Randy Wittman will have to rely heavily on third year forwards Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin to shoulder the load in Nene’s absence. While Seraphin and Booker are suitable backups, neither can emulate Nene’s savvy basketball IQ or his low post presence. Seraphin is a decent scorer, but is a defensive liability and Booker is an all hustle player with limited potential to improve his skill set. Luckily, veteran forward Al Harrington has recently returned to the lineup after a knee injury sidelined him nearly three months. Harrington is still working him back into playing shape, but should be able to dispel Booker and Seraphin, allowing the Wizards to space the floor with his outside shot.
Even if Booker and Seraphin admirably step into Nene’s role, the Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal will take them. With just 25 games remaining in the season, the Wizards are deeply rooted within the playoff race currently holding the fifth seed. Nene’s injury couldn’t have come at worse time for the Wizards, but there is optimism that he will be available and healthy for the playoffs should the Wizards hold onto their spot. For now the Wizards must continue to make do with what they have and hope to get contributions across the board.