Early in the third quarter against Philadelphia, Nene took a Paul Pierce pass on the right side, stepped back behind the arc l and smoothly sank his first three pointer of the season.
A couple of possessions later, he received the ball on the perimeter and seemed to square up for another one before deciding to pass the ball off on the play. This comes a few games after Nene nailed a step back almost three (his foot was barely behind the line) against Chicago.
A few games prior to that, Nene missed a corner 3 against the Knicks. Given that Nene has attempted only 35 in his 13 year NBA career (including 6 heaves) this certainly seemed a trend worth noting.
Is Nene turning over a new leaf and becoming the Brazilian Bonner? Dirk with Dreads?
Not quite, but it is a product of the Wizards big men working to extend their range in practice.
When I asked Randy Wittman after the Wizards victory over the 76ers if it was something Nene was adding to his game, he didn't seem to think so:
"You'd have to ask him. Wittman said. 'If it goes in, I don't care he can add it." So perhaps he is not an example of Wittman's "being talked into new-age stuff" as he alluded to before the season. As he said at the time, "I'm open if it works. If it doesn't, we'll throw it away."
But he did put it in the context of what other bigs on the Washington roster have been working on at practice throughout the season.
"All our bigs play around with it," Wittman explained. Kris and Gooden, and Nene has gotten involved with those guys a little bit in stretching it out, but I don't think he's real confident in launching a lot of threes."
Gooden in the brief time he's been on the court has shot threes at a higher rate per 36 minutes than at any point in his career. Kris Humphries played around with shooting from deep during preseason practice and in the first few games, but has shied away from it as the season goes on.
Nevertheless, there is something tantalizing about Nene, who has shot above 40 percent from 16 feet and out this season and hit 46 percent from that range last year being able to stretch his range out a couple feet further. No one believes that Nene is going to start firing up shots like Chris Bosh (though Bosh never shot threes prolifically or decently until last year, his 11th year in the league), but perhaps this is a wrinkle Nene could add to his game as he gets older.
I asked another Washington big, Kevin Seraphin, if he was going to start shooting threes now.
"One day," and then reiterated, "One day." He was joking.