This Year’s Al Harrington : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14
[Truth About It.net player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 — For each player on this year’s roster of 15, we take a look at what’s at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]
Eric Maynor via Conor Dirks; Garrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam Rubin; Glen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. Townsend; Trevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle Weidie; Chris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean Fagan; Martell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas Kuba; Nene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle Weidie; John Wall via Conor Dirks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE.
What’s at stake for Al Harrington? A sunset. Walks on the beach. Daydreaming. A career.
The NBAer who turned 33-years old this past February has spent almost half of his life in the league. He’s also one of three Wizards who’ve mentioned the “R” word in the past six months — “Retirement,” joining Emeka Okafor’s recent usage (still TBD) and Nene’s consideration this past Spring (welp, he’s here … for now).
Can’t blame Big Al. He’s played almost 28,000 minutes of NBA basketball game action over his career, which equates to about 2.7 weeks. And when you get traded from a budding contender (Denver) to a tanking pretender (Orlando) at age 32, and then you go through multiple knee surgeries, it’s easy to understand why retirement thoughts infiltrate the brain.
It’s also easy to understand why Harrington wants to give it the ol’ college try one more time, even though he didn’t go to college. Basketball life—and the NBA’s “life”—aren’t easy to give up. The fans, the lights, the uniforms, the sneaker squeaks, and of course, the money—all of it has to be addicting. Harrington now finds himself with an NBA doormat in Washington, but not one without an opportunity to be placed at the playoff doorstep.
“So obviously, not to name names or whatever but all that garbage is out and now it’s a new regime,” said Harrington recently about this year’s Wizards in comparison to the teams of the past that we know all too well. And he speaks the truth. This Wizards team is undoubtedly better positioned to bring much less extracurricular, non-basketball (and basketball) worry to the gray hairs on Randy Wittman’s head and to the hairs sort of left on Ernie Grunfeld’s head. [Side note: Grunfeld not sporting many gray hairs might be one of the NBA’s biggest mysteries that not even Walt Frazier and Keith Hernandez can answer.] But this also means the pressure is greater and the excuses have dwindled, for Wittman and Grunfeld at least.
Harrington has said that he had other options aside from the Wizards this summer, and while this is likely true, he’s in Washington for three reasons: 1) Need (John Wall wants a stretch 4!); 2) Opportunity (Jan Vesely stands in his way for minutes? Please.); and 3) He shares an agent with Wall (Dan Fegan).
What’s at stake? Playoffs. Reputations. The sun-setting of a career. And just maybe, one (or two) more seasons of NBA relevancy.
Not counting the 10 games he played with Orlando last season, Harrington’s eFG% has been over 50 percent in his past six seasons (age 26 to 32). In all seasons prior to age 26, his eFG% fell below 48 percent. So better with age, clearly. Can we have some wine with that @cheddahcheese7?
Harrington and Nene played 544 total minutes together on the 50-win, 2010-11 Denver Nuggets. This only ranked 23rd-most in two-man unit minutes on Denver that season, but over the 28 two-man units that saw 500 or more minutes of action together, the now-Wizards duo performed the best in plus/minus per 48 minutes by far. Nene and Al led the Nuggets to a plus-12.7 per 48 when they were on the floor together—no other Denver two-man combo reached double figures in positive plus/minus.
What this means:
Harrington and Hilario were most often combined with 1) Chauncey Billups, Aaron Afflalo, and Carmelo Anthony (101 minutes, plus-3.8); 2) Ty Lawson, J.R. Smith, and Aaron Afflalo (74 minutes, plus-3.9); and 3) Lawson, Billups, and Afflalo (44 minutes, plus-11.9).
Interesting that the best five-man unit amongst those three included two point guards and not Carmelo Anthony. [via NBA.com/stats]
I think this plays to the Wizards’ current strengths. Bradley Beal’s general basketball intelligence is much closer to the Billups end of the spectrum than Smith. And Trevor Ariza most closely replicates the skills of Afflalo. Lawson is clearly Wall.
Wittman is obviously looking for more rebounding presence and paint prowess in turning to Trevor Booker as his starting 4 over the last several preseason games (and likely to start the season). After all, your Wizards preseason rebounding leaders are Kevin Seraphin (6.3) and Jan Vesely (6.1)—Booker comes in third at 5.5 per game. That said, Wittman might not be able to avoid starting Harrington at some point (even if the team would be best served with him coming off the bench in the end). Wall and Beal have only averaged six boards between them during the preseason, and while that is in limited minutes (28.1 and 30.2 per game respectively), they are going to have to help a lot more no matter who is playing next to them. It’s a catch-22, but if the Wizards struggle putting the ball in the hole, Wittman won’t have much choice.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
Make more buckets seems like a simple plan. And the argument so far this preseason is that Harrington can still do it … and not just from the 3-point line, but with the ability to craftily weave himself to the right spots on the floor and to use the agility he still has left to get past other NBA 4s wont to lumber around the court. The Harrington I’ve seen seems much more of a methodical and willing teammate than the junk game which closed out Antawn Jamison’s tenure with the Wizards.
If Harrington can even come close to replicating his 3-point ability during his last season in Denver (at least 300 attempts and better than 33 percent from deep), he’ll be added to the list of best 3-point shooters in Wizards team history. It isn’t a very long list—via Basketball-Reference, that milestone has only been reached 15 times by eight different Wizards/Bullets during the NBA’s 3-point line era.
Harrington also needs to ideally keep the same rebound rate (12.9%) during that last season in Denver, which is a career-high aside for his rookie season with Indiana when he played just 160 minutes. So, not so much room for improvement, but keep doing these things and the cheddah cheese will be gravy.