Not many expected Nene Hilario to live up to his draft stature (7th overall in 2002). And so far over his career he hasn't. However, this season Nene is embarking on one of the greatest comeback seasons in Nuggets' history and in the NBA this year.
Nene's candor shooting has been the key to enlarging the Nuggets widespread attack and a huge reason exactly why they're atop the Northwest Division at 24-12.
So how greatly does he impact the team: The Nuggets are 8-2 when Nene logs 36 minutes or more this season, 5-0 when he dishes out three or more assists and 2-6 when he grabs five rebounds or less.
Denver is also 7-3 when he records a double-double and six-year veteran is averaging 22 ppg on the last game of each month; helping the Nuggets to a 4-0 record.
The Brazilian also leads the league in field goal percentage with a mark just overlapping 60 percent and is hankering for an All-Star berth along with fellow Western Conference bigs Amare Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum, and Tim Duncan.
He's scored in double-figures in 32 out of 36 games this season and has 10 double-doubles, including four in a row from Dec 20-26.
Over his last five games, Nene is averaging 20 points and 8.3 rebounds on 30-of-40 shooting from the field. He also has five blocks combined in his last two contests.
Monday's 135-115 win over the Pacers marked the seventh time in his last nine games Nene has logged either an assist, steal, basket, rebound, or block towards the stat sheet.
Because Nene is naturally a power forward it heightens the outstanding job he's done at the five. Of the 15 starting centers in the Western Conference, 11 of them outweigh him. At 240 pounds he vacates the same weight class of teammate Carmelo Anthony, who himself stands in at 230, and that's after following the intense Olympic-mandated regimen in Beijing over the summer.
Essentially presenting a middleweight in a heavyweight's world, the undersized specimen must utilize his overt advantages which Nene has done this season.
His quickness is his greatest asset and allows him to reach the desired mark on the floor before his opponent, ensuring he's in better position when defending opponents and around the glass. Though an All-Star appearance is unlikely to cross his path, Nene an unattainable amount deserves deal of recognition.