Commentary

Roles redefined

Opposing players explain how Nene and Trevor Ariza have expanded their games

Updated: May 27, 2009, 5:15 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine

Nene Hilario had been only a spot-starter before this season. Trevor Ariza had averaged 18.3 minutes per game for his career. But over the course of this season, they have become indispensable members of the Nuggets and Lakers, respectively. That has been particularly true in the playoffs, where Ariza has bumped his numbers up to 11 points per game, 30 minutes per game and 50 percent 3-point shooting, while Nene has been a rock inside for Denver, averaging 12.3 points and 7.6 boards a night. How have they improved so much so quickly? As the series moves to Game 5, we asked Tyson Chandler (Nene) and Shane Battier (Ariza) to give us an inside look.

[+] EnlargeNene Hilario
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesNene has risen to the challenge for Denver.

Tyson Chandler (Hornets) on Nene:

"I've always thought Nene was a great player. He's always been one of the strongest players in the league. He's athletic and he's got big hands. In the past, there have been a lot of times when he's kind of been left out of their system, so he hasn't been as productive as he could be because Denver's system was up and down, with Carmelo Anthony and other guys shooting a lot of shots. So Nene rarely got rhythm touches.


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Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer

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