So, the good news about yesterday is that Nene may be back in time for the playoffs, should the Wizards make it. However, there are still 26 more games left to be played, and the Wizards need to secure as high of a seed as they can, ideally above the No. 7 and No. 8 spots, because they'd face the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat.
How do they compensate? Here are the three things that I can see the Wizards doing in the meantime.
The Wizards will miss Nene's playmaking ability
The one skill that stands out about Nene as opposed to most other post players is that he is often looks to pass the ball from the block as opposed to always looking to score. He has averaged three assists per game, and an assist percentage of 16.5 percent, which is third among all players on the team who have played at least 47 games. None of the other Wizards' post players have assist percentages above 10 percent.
On the bright side, the Wizards just acquired Andre Miller last week, and he will be a much needed facilitator, especially now that Nene is out. In addition, Bradley Beal has been averaging over four assists per game in his last 20 games. So they will have to shoulder more of the load making plays for others.
But even then, we won't see as many highlights of Wizards post players making passes like this touch pass he made to Martell Webster after a Marcin Gortat offensive rebound (this highlight was from the Cavaliers road game on November 20, 2013):
Or a pass like this one Nene made to a wide open Webster for a corner three:
Nene's facilitating skills on the block and high post will be sorely missed.
Expect to see the Wizards play more small ball
More reads regarding Nene's injury
Nene will be out for six weeks according to report
While it's a relief to know that Nene didn't tear a knee ligament, he will still probably miss nearly the rest of the regular season.
More on Nene's injury
With Nene out of the lineup, Gortat is now the only remaining player who is at least 6'11". That leaves us with Trevor Booker, Al Harrington and Kevin Seraphin as the next options to start at power forward. The Wizards could start Booker because he is one of the best rebounders on the team when he's on the floor. They could play Harrington because he can stretch the defense with his shooting. They could also use Seraphin because he would provide the most size right away.
But no matter what, the Wizards will have to use smaller lineups, in particular when Gortat is resting on the bench.
Small lineups sometimes can get a bad rep because they may not be able to rebound as effectively as a larger lineup. However, the Wizards are a team that ideally could and probably should be playing at a faster pace, especially when John Wall is on the floor, as they'e only No. 18 in possessions per game right now. Playing at a faster pace could play to the advantage of a smaller lineup.
Therefore, it won't be surprising to see Al Harrington and Trevor Booker play at center in limited situations whenever both Gortat and Seraphin are on the bench, whether it is because they both need a rest, or because one or both are in foul trouble.
John Wall will not be given a pass if the Wizards have a significant setback in the standings
Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said there would be no excuses for not making the playoffs, even with injury. It's safe to say that he will be holding the team to that this year, considering that Washington is fifth in the Eastern Conference standings.
This year, we have seen Wall show significant progress in his game as a shooter and as a leader. He has now made his first All-Star game appearance, and has the Wizards playing at their highest level since he was drafted here. Sure, the team's best post player will be gone, possibly for the rest of the regular season, but that should not be an excuse for the Wizards to drop from fifth to eighth in the conference standings.
Since he now has a five-year max extension in hand, Wall is clearly the Wizards' franchise player for the foreseeable future, and as one of our community members said in a comment, it is time for him to "really earn that [$80 million] contract." Sure, Nene's most recent injury certainly isn't ideal, but times of adversity should be a prime opportunity for Wall to shine even more.
Have any more thoughts on what the Wizards may do with their rotations with Nene out for the foreseeable future? How do you think John Wall will respond to this? Sound off in the comments below.