Wizards Interested in Wizards Killer Al Harrington? Should They Be?
Harrington negotiated a release from the Orlando Magic recently and cleared waivers on August 4. He missed all but 10 games last season and has struggled to recover from an April 2012 knee injury, including a bout with a post-surgery staph infection, Stein reports. Harrington turned 33 years old this past February.
Harrington has played 36 career games against Washington, averaging 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over 29.4 minutes per contest. His career field goal percentage against the Wizards is .465 and his career 3-point percentage is .424.
But in the Harrington’s last 11 games against Washington, with the first in the series coming in November 2006, he has averaged 21.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over 29.3 minutes per game. His FG% and 3P% have been boosted to .518 and .492, respectively. His four teams over that 11-game span (Indiana – 1 game, Golden State – 3, New York – 4, and Denver – 4) have won eight and lost three, which is not that hard to imagine considering how poor the Wizards have recently been.
In February 2010, Harrington abused JaVale McGee in a defensive mismatch, scorching the Wizards for 37 points on 5-for-8 from long distance as his New York Knicks out-lasted Washington for an overtime win. Harrington last faced the Wizards as a Denver Nugget in January 2012, scoring 29 points off the bench and again going 5-for-8 from deep. Five of his 3-pointers that night in Denver’s win came in the fourth quarter… after some fans sitting sidelines at the Verizon Center heckled him.*
Harrington was a very productive sub for the Nuggets in 2011-12. As you can see from his heat map below, he was on point from the corner, where he shot 40.9 percent (36-for-88), which was relatively on par with Jared Dudley and Nic Batum that season. Harrington shot 30.5 percent (65-for-213) on above-the-break 3-pointers in 2011-12. In 2010-11, Harrington shot 36.7 percent on corner 3s (33-for-90), and 35.3 percent from above-the-break (84-for-238).
Point is, Harrington is a good shooter and consistently has been for the last seven-to-eight years of his career. Get him the ball for the closest 3-point shot on the court (the corner 3), which John Wall can, and he should be able to deliver.Harrington is a veteran (so this automatically tickles Ernie Grunfeld), he is a capable offensive player (the Wizards sorely need a big man who can spread the floor to the arc), and he won’t kill his team on defense or on the boards (Harrington’s rebound percentages are on-par with Antawn Jamison’s as of late, and Harrington’s defensive numbers have always been better). But how much does Harrington still have in the tank, and is he in post-injury, NBA shape? It’s clearly going to take a training camp to find out.
If Washington signs Harrington to a veteran’s minimum contract, which would be the assumption here, then it could be the best possible management of risk to fill out the very last roster spot. That is to say, Harrington ain’t Fabricio Oberto, Earl Boykins (or Hilton Armstrong). Still, some will surely clamor for flexibility or a younger option with more potential. But potential has only gotten Washington so far up to this point, and that path has yet to include the playoffs (of which Harrington has had a taste, 48 games, over his career).
What would you do? Vote below.
[Stats via Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/stats]
* A blurb from TAI’s coverage of Harrington’s last game against the Wizards:
According to the Basketball-Reference.com database, since 1986-87, 24 NBA forwards have come off the bench to score 25 or more points in 30 minutes or less of action while sinking at least five threes. Before last night, the last guy to do it was Al Harrington, against Sacramento in March 2003; Harrington is responsible for three of the 24 instances. And even though the data set only goes back to 1986 per BBR’s numbers, it’s clear to see, with the first such instance happening in November 1994 via Donyell Marshall of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the initial presence of the three-point shooting forward in the modern NBA. Other names on the list include Reggie Williams, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Croshere, Toni Kukoc, Tracy Murray, Steven Jackson, Terry Mills, Chuck Person, Dennis Scott, and Hedo Turkoglu. Speaking of Hedo, on January 28, 2005, he scored 31 points of 5-7 on threes in 28 minutes off the bench for the Orlando Magic versus the Washington Wizards. Orlando won that game too.
And Harrington’s quote from that night about the Wiz Kids:
“They’re a good team, they’re just young, and my personal opinion is they are just a couple of veterans away to really kind of help guide them guys and close games out.”
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