By William Beal
Right off the bat, allow me to apologize, because I feel personally responsible for the latest spat of plantar fasciitis to afflict poor Nene. The last time you heard from me, I pondered that DeJuan Blair may be kept on the roster simply for if/when Nene got hurt. Why I thought I could tempt the injury gods in such a way is beyond me, and I’ll be kicking myself until his return.
The Brazilian big man has missed five straight games since aggravating the reoccurring right foot injury in the game against the Bucks on November 22.
The Wizards looked to be heading down the typical road of Nene-less basketball, dropping the first two games he missed, but have since gone on to win three straight.
In 11 games this year, Nene has only averaged 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds, but his meaningfulness as a veteran leader, skills as a passer, and elite boxing-out talents are missed greatly.
So how have the Wiz managed to stay afloat in Nene’s absence? Well, much to my chagrin, not because of DeJuan Blair, who has only seen garbage time minutes in two games since the injury.
Kris Humphries has slid into the starting role with Drew Gooden now the backup. Humphries has continued to display his midrange skill, also grabbing a whopping 20 rebounds against the Lakers.
Randy Wittman has also gotten a little creative, experimenting with a lineup that has Rasual Butler as a stretch-4 in limited minutes.