After spending all of last season as a starting frontcourt tandem on one of the NBA's best defensive units, Washington Wizards' bigs Nene and Marcin Gortat hadn't shared the floor for a single minute this year until Monday's loss against the Portland Trail Blazers.
They played side by side for eight minutes, and the Wizards were crushed with them both out there. Here's a closer look from SB Nation's Bullets Forever at why Randy Wittman's nostalgia could kill Washington's hard-earned momentum:
The Wizards recalibrated their entire roster last summer by signing several wings and letting some of their frontcourt depth walk in free agency. They wanted to open up their offense and move away from slow, plodding units like last year's starting five.
Slowly but surely, things were starting to come around before Monday's awful loss. Hopefully Wittman realizes it was a mistake and moves on as quickly as he can.
When you have no other options, you have no other options, but aside from that, Monday should provide enough evidence even in a small sample size that pairing Nene and Gortat is a bad idea. And it's not as if this is the first time we've seen them struggle. After the 2015 All Star break, Nene & Gortat had a -1.6 Net Rating together in regular season and a -8.3 rating in the playoffs. There's a reason why the team was so desperate to get away from pairing them together last season, and there's a reason why the team waited this long before they tried playing them together. For as talented and useful as each of them are, their skills overlap too much for either of them to be effective together in today's NBA. Trying to go back to what worked in the past won't help them fix what's broken in the present.