Emeka Okafor's neck injury is a big problem because the Washington Wizards don't exactly have the world's best frontcourt depth. We knew this was an issue even before Okafor's injury, and we know it's an issue now. Nevertheless, someone needs to start by default alongside Nene. Who should that person be?
Al Harrington: As a vet, I imagine he'll get the first crack at it. He has experience playing with Nene from their Denver days, and historically, they've been a good match. Two years ago, the Nuggets outscored opponents by nearly 12 points when Nene and Harrington shared the floor. The problem is that Harrington, at 34 and coming off a knee injury, probably can't handle starter's minutes anymore. A Nene/Harrington duo will also be giving up a lot on the glass, though Nene has a history of inflating the rebounding numbers of his teammates.
Kevin Seraphin: Seraphin has the most potential of any of the young big men on the roster. The problem is that I don't think there's an offense that can blend in his skills well with Nene's. It would be better for Seraphin's development to use him as a backup center exclusively, where he can take more shots instead of trying to fit in with another post player. I think that hurt him last season.
Trevor Booker: The most logical choice size-wise, as Booker is the closest thing to a power forward left on this roster. He had been making strides prior to dealing with a ton of injuries, and if he can improve his mid-range jumper, the Wizards could be fine offensively. The problem is on defense: Booker's inability to defend the pick and roll will force Nene to play more of a basket-protecting role when he'd prefer to be more out on the floor.
Jan Vesely: I can't believe I'm saying this, but ... theoretically, this pairing makes sense. Nene's passing can amplify Vesely's cutting skills, and the two could trade off along the back line of a zoneish defensive scheme. If Vesely is going to turn his career around, it's going to be with Nene alongside him. Problem is, we're talking about Jan Vesely. He needs to prove it before I can believe in him.
Trevor Ariza: This would be the most radical solution. Rather than stay big, the Wizards could switch to a small-ball, Houston Rockets-like look with three three-point shooters on the wings flanking Nene. The Wizards used similar lineups successfully at times in the fourth quarter last year, though part of the success was due to circumstances. It's one thing for a small lineup to succeed situationally, it's another to have it be your starting lineup, where you subject Ariza and Martell Webster to the wear and tear of pounding under the basket. Nevertheless, given Ariza's defensive versatility and three-point shooting (36 percent is OK for a wing, but it's pretty good for a stretch 4 that isn't Ryan Anderson or Ersan Ilyasova), it's an option to consider.
Otto Porter: Many of the same concepts with Ariza apply, except one could hope that Porter's length, particularly as a help defender, provides a new dimension. Then again, if rebounding and defending the post are concerns with Ariza, they apply double to Porter at this stage of his career.
Who would you start in Okafor's place?
More from Bullets Forever:
- Assessing the fallout from Emeka Okafor's injured neck
- Emeka Okafor 'optimistic' he won't need surgery on injured neck
- Emeka Okafor injury: Wizards' C out indefinitely with herniated disc in neck
- Chris Singleton injury: Wizards' F out 6-8 weeks after foot surgery
- Examining John Wall's improved jump shot