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NBA Analysis: Should Rockets Go After Nene?

Now that all the Saga of Carmelo Anthony is over, what does his move mean for the Rockets?  It actually has a big effect on what Morey and crew are trying/will be able to accomplish by Thursday.  It is no secret the Rockets are in dire need of a center that can play defense.  Look no further than…

Nene Hilario

Now that Melo is gone, it looks like the Denver Nuggets are blowing up their team to start the rebuilding process early.  The Nuggets got a center in the deal with New York in Tomofey Mozgov.  Is Nene next on the chopping block for Denver?  Morey and the Rockets front office sure hope so…but how good of a fit is the Brazilian Prince for Houston (who goes by one name these days)?

On the offensive side of the ball you can’t argue with the stats Nene puts up.  He is leading the league in field goal percentage by a ridiculous margin at 63.7%.  Second place: Emeka Okafor at 59.3%.  It is not like he doesn’t shoot the ball either.  Nene averages around nine shots a game which shows he picks his spots from the floor, taking smart shots.  He was also top three in field goal percentage last year.  He’s a beast inside, drawing a higher percentage on and-one fouls than anyone in the league except Reggie Evans.  He can run the floor exceptionally well for a center, keeping up with the Rockets fast-break pace.  He averages 15 points a game this season, the highest in his career, and has started 51 out of a possible 57 games for the Nugget.  As I wrote in my last trade watch piece, durability at the Center position for the Rockets is a rarity.  It is like the comedic value of The Office…hasn’t been seen in years.  Yes, the durability aspect of Nene is nice but Houston is okay on the offensive end of the floor.

It is on the defensive side of things where the Rockets have the biggest hole to fill.  So how does Nene fare on that end of the court?  For his 6’11’’ frame, Nene is an average rebounder.  For his career, he has pulled down 6.9 per game, peaking in ’08-’09 with 7.8.  In comparison, this season, the smaller Luis Scola out rebounds Nene 8.4-7.2.  Also, the Chuckwagon is right around Nene’s rebounding numbers at 6.8 RPG.  A great analysis about Nene’s defense comes from Red 94’s Rahat Huq:

Overall, opponents score against him 44% of the time, score on 40% of their isolation attempts, 46% of their post-ups, 41% off their attempts on P&R’s, and 49% of their tries when spotting up.  In comparison, opponents score against Chuck Hayes just on 39% of their attempts, 41% of their isolations, 39% of their post-ups, 61% of their attempts off P&R’s, and 32% of their spot-up attempts.

Verdict: I like Nene as a fit for the Rockets.  His numbers are comparable to the Chuckwagon on defense, and most of all he provides a big body that can clog up the lane.  He’s not a great rebounder but for an undersized squad, the Rockets are a good rebounding team (11th in the NBA).  Another big plus is his age.  Nene is only 28 and still has a lot left in the tank.  His last three seasons were the best of his career and it seems he is reaching his peak.  I like the deal if the Rockets don’t have to give up a lot.  If they can give Denver a draft pick + a couple of the youngsters on the squad (Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson, or Bud) I think you have to pull the trigger.


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