HOUSTON—Commemorating the veteran big man for the minutes worth of contributions he made to a great Rockets team, Nenê Hilario was honored as the Tenth Man Of The Year at Monday night’s NBA Awards. “Whether he was high-fiving teammates after a timeout or setting a couple ball screens while the starters rested, Nenê defined an exemplary tenth man,” said head coach Mike D’Antoni, who gave credit to Hilario for Houston having some of the best post-dunk bench celebrations in the league and praised his invaluable part in locker room pranks. “We’re thrilled that Nenê is finally getting recognized for all he does. Stats just don’t capture the value of someone who can check in, give someone a hard foul, and immediately check out of the game. From physically restraining teammates in an altercation to getting in the ref’s face to argue a bad call, he has been instrumental in our team’s success.” At press time, Nenê had been traded away by the Rockets for a late-round 2021 pick in a salary-cap dump to help re-sign James Harden next year.
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