With NBA Free Agency just around the corner, the San Antonio Spurs must seek depth at the center position. Nene Hilario, who is an unrestricted free agent, would be a great fit for the team.
San Antonio Spurs’ core of big men have diminished. LaMarcus Aldridge is on the trade block and Dewayne Dedmon has entered unrestricted free agency. Similarly, David Lee and Pau Gasol have both opted out of their contracts and will enter unrestricted free agency.
Needless to say, San Antonio needs to address their rotation of big men.
Nene Hilario, a 16-year veteran in the NBA, has entered free agency following a stint with the Houston Rockets. While under Coach Mike D’Antonio, Nene notched career highs in field goal percentage and three-point percentage.
With the seasoned veteran reaching peak efficiency, San Antonio may look to add his talents to their thinning front court.
1. Nene’s Physical Intensity
One of Nene’s greatest assets is his physical archetype. Standing at 6’11” tall, Hilario brings an element of size and stature which would greatly help San Antonio. His immense strength allows him to compete with any big man on the low block.
As many great Spurs have, Nene has aged fantastically. The 34-year old center has transformed his game to the new NBA by combining elite physicality with basketball IQ and graceful footwork.
Because of his will to compete, he’s kept in great physical form during the latter part of his career.
While his 4.2 rebounds per game in the 2016-2017 season may not indicate it, Nene is a fantastic rebounder. His ability to box out and rise above opposing players allows him to grab rebounds at an alarming rate.
Bringing this type of athlete to the San Antonio roster could help to make up for Gasol’s lack of athleticism and the potential loss of Dewayne Dedmon.
2. Floor Spacing
As aforementioned, Nene reached career-highs in both regular field goal and three-point percentages. His ability to catch and shoot was uncovered by the offense of Mike D’Antoni.
Bringing this skill set to San Antonio would open up the floor for wing players to drive and for big men to work the post.
This would also allow San Antonio to run a fantastic small-ball lineup against quicker teams. David Lee often filled this role in the 2016-2017 season but was often unable to capitalize on open shots. Nene could easily slide into this role.
3. Veteran Leadership
Nene has contributed to multiple playoff teams and is well versed in facing strong competition. He has never been known to back down against elite players and brings an all-around grit to the table which is invaluable come playoff time.
His addition to the Spurs roster would come easily, as Nene has worked in multiple sets and offenses between three different teams.
Besides D’Antonio, Nene has played under George Karl and Flip Saunders. He can certainly work under Coach Popovich and his elite coaching staff.
As a rotation player, he has a lot to contribute. As a veteran, he has lots of guidance to provide for younger players. There would be no downside for his addition to the Spurs’ roster.
With Free Agency revving up, there’s no doubt that General Manager R.C. Buford will be busy. Nene should be one of the key role players to seek in his pursuit of a championship roster.