Everyone can agree that utilizing Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden as stretch fours was the solution to the Wizards' offensive woes this season. Once the Wizards opted to give minutes players who could stretch the floor with outside shooting and force defenders to respect their ability to drive the lane as needed, we finally got to see the Wizards' offense, centered around John Wall and Marcin Gortat's pick and roll blossom into something beautiful.
But here's the thing: you can't have a solution without having a problem. So you can't discuss how stretch fours revitalized the Wizards' offense without bringing up how it was nearly dead for most of the season because of how Nene and Kris Humphries' clogged up the offense at that position.
Nene and Humphries felt the squeeze in the playoffs as the Wizards made the shift to spreading the floor. Nene was forced to play center more often and left out of crunch time lineups in most games, while Kris Humphries' only playoff action came late in Washington's blowout win over the Raptors in Game 4.
To his credit, Kris Humphries understands he needs to adapt in order to be useful on the Wizards. Here's what he had to say during Monday's exit interviews:
I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff. I started working on it this year, and had a lot of success in the last month or so, working on it every day. And I'll continue to work on it for next year to add that into my game.
Of course, Humphries said similar things at the start of training camp, where he appeared to be putting some hard work in to improve his outside range. He went on to go 0-7 from beyond the arc this season. In fariness, it can take years to develop an NBA-level three point shot, so we're not trying to say you should dismiss Humphries' comments as idle chatter, but at the same time, don't be shocked if he hasn't turned into Ryan Anderson by November. If nothing else, Kris appears to be willing to make changes to his game to reestablish his role on the team and improve the flow of the offense.
When Nene was asked if he was going to play more center next season after taking on more minutes there in the playoffs, he offered a less than encouraging response:
As J. Michael noted in his piece on Monday's exit interviews, Nene tried to smooth things over a bit by clarifying he's willing to both come off the bench and play minutes at center. He said his only concern with playing at center is "how intense it is" which you would assume relates to the size of the player he's guarding on defense. We can't say we blame Nene for having reservations about guarding players like DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan, but the good news is there's less of those types of players in today's NBA. So while he may not be thrilled about playing more center next season to open things up for the rest of the roster, it's good that he understands that changes need to be made. At center, Nene has a much better shot at having a positive impact for the Wizards next season, which they still desperately need considering he's the Wizards' second-highest paid player.
Of course, depending on how the Wizards retool the roster over the summer, it may not matter what changes Nene and Humphries are willing to make. But if Nene and/or Kris Humphries are around when the 2015-16 season rolls around, it's nice to see they're ready to make the necessary adjustments to play an important role.