USA TODAY Sports
What effect did the Nene trade have on the Wizards locker room? For one, it gave the kids an adult to look up to.
This is Part IV of a six-part series noting the impact of last March's stunning deal for Nene. In this section, we note Nene's impact in the locker room.
This isn't to necessarily to rag on JaVale McGee, who was always known more for his in-game antics than for ever generating internal discord. But whether it was his alter ego "Pierre," the Cinnamon Brothers or his mother's sideline rants, McGee never really gave off the impression that he took his craft or the team's win-loss record all that seriously.
That changed once Nene arrived. Sure, the Wizards haven't won many more games since the trade (they're are only 29-39 with Nene in the lineup), but at least he takes the losing hard and demands more from his teammates. John Wall hasn't exactly been shy about the shift in culture since the Wizards jettisoned McGee and Nick Young (and eventually Andray Blatche) from the locker room.
Nene also gave the Wizards someone who could play the role of an elder statesman and take some of the media pressure off Wall, especially following particularly tough losses. The offseason additions of Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster have only helped in that regard.
Nene has also become something of a mentor to the Wizards' cadre of young players, especially to the frustrating Kevin Seraphin, and can often be seen during and after games going up to a teammate to impart wisdom. Again, this isn't necessarily a knock on McGee, who as a young player himself wasn't exactly in a position to lecture anybody, but it's nonetheless a dynamic that the Wizards lacked before the trade.
Basically, whereas McGee still hasn't shaken his reputation as a young, immature player even though he's a fifth-year veteran, Nene gave the Wizards the adult they desperately needed in the locker room. One would hope the team's win/loss record will soon reflect that.