Final Regular-Season Grades for Every Washington Wizards Player
After months of talking, predicting and debating over if the Washington Wizards would make the playoffs or not this season, the time is finally here.
The Wizards have pleased their fans and themselves by making the playoffs for the first time in five years after fighting through 82 games of the regular season.
But, these 82 games are just the start of something much bigger for a number of reasons. Yes, it's important and exciting that the Wizards are back in postseason action. More than that, though, this season is about the long-term future of the Wizards.
John Wall and Bradley Beal will continue to grow as a backcourt tandem, as this (somewhat) young Wizards team prepares to make many more postseason runs after this year.
Still, a lot can be said about the team the Wizards currently have put together to take on the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs by looking at the team's 82 games this year. Before getting to the first game of the playoff series against the Bulls on Sunday, we need to first look back at who came through for the Wizards in this important year.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and are accurate as of April 18.
Even with Otto Porter Jr. and Garrett Temple on the roster, Chris Singleton is the least-talked about player on the Wizards.
After playing a bit in the first half of the season but missing some time with an injury, Singleton has literally disappeared from Washington's game plan in the second half.
He only averages three points in 10 minutes per game and even when he is on the floor he doesn't make any discernible impact on the game. Singleton is making less than three shots per game, and he has only played eight minutes in Washington's last eight contests.
Going forward, Singleton might be worth keeping around for the Wizards to be a role player deep off the bench (think pre-All-Star break Garrett Temple), but for this year, it was almost impossible to tell that Singleton was even a part of this team.
Otto Porter Jr.
Heading into the season, everyone was hoping (and assuming) that Otto Porter Jr. could at least break a potential playoff rotation for the Wizards. But that doesn't look like it's happening.
Porter's involvement with the team is negligible, so much so that fans in the Verizon Center will erupt with applause if the Wizards are playing at home and Porter even touches the ball.
He barely breaks two points a game and he couldn't even break 37 percent shooting for his rookie year.
The Georgetown product has plenty of time to grow as an NBA player but just by watching how few minutes he plays it's easy to see that Porter could already be deemed a disappointment by Wizards fans.
Garrett Temple was playing a big bench role for the Wizards prior to the All-Star break. However, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster have really taken over the backcourt spots, leaving Temple as the odd man out.
In crunch time, Temple is a strong and energetic defender that the Wizards could use. But he provides virtually nothing on the offensive end of the floor, which has made him fall out of favor with the coaching staff.
Since Feb. 20, Temple hasn't played more than six minutes in a game, mainly floating around in the four or five-minute range.
But, earlier in the year, he logged some solid defensive time in November and December, which saves his grade for the season as much as his grade could be saved given his low number of minutes played.
When Emeka Okafor was first announced to be out indefinitely for the season, many fans started to look toward Kevin Seraphin to take on the load at center.
Thankfully, that never panned out. Once Marcin Gortat came in, and Trevor Booker stepped up his game, Seraphin became an afterthought in Washington.
A traditional defensive liability, Seraphin couldn't get anything going even on offense, scoring just over four points per game. Although he was decent at the rim, Seraphin continued to lose opponents on defense who could get behind him and to the hoop.
Since coming to Washington after he was traded on draft day, Seraphin has really struggled to get his footing in the league. And after this year, it would be hard to convince someone that he is deserving of playing time in the postseason.
What Andre Miller is giving the Wizards right now is exactly what they weren't getting from Eric Maynor.
Maynor had virtually become invisible on the floor and he was being ignored by the coaching staff. Now, Miller isn't playing in 15 minutes a game, but when he is on the floor, the Wizards at least feel comfortable that he can make plays and keep the offense going.
Miller isn't scoring much, but he still creates opportunities for others and he is comfortable playing with the younger guys (ex. Beal) as well as the other veterans on the roster (Al Harrington and Drew Gooden).
He doesn't have a ton of games with the Wizards under his belt, but he gets major credit for filling a big hole on the Wizards' roster at backup point guard. Still, the Wizards would like to see him putting up better numbers (he's averaging just 3.8 points per game).
Following up on the leading member of the so-called "AARP group," Al Harrington is the shooter in the group of Andre Miller, Harrington and Drew Gooden.
Harrington missed most of the season with an injury, but he has manged to appear in 34 games and show that his career isn't over just yet.
Fifteen years into his career, Harrington hasn't been a big-time shooter off the bench, but he still gives Washington depth with his ability to stretch the floor as a power forward.
Harrington is shooting 34 percent from three, and although he's not taking a large volume of shots, he will make one or two big shots every game from beyond the arc.
Washington would have liked Harrington for the whole year, and since he only played in less than half the games, his grade gets diminished, and he can't do much besides shoot threes at this point in his career. But, Harrington did enough this year to possibly earn some postseason minutes.
With various injuries to Nene and Al Harrington and the signing of Drew Gooden, Trevor Booker hasn't really been able to find a groove this season.
Every time it seemed like he'd start getting consistent minutes, Gooden would get hot or Nene would get healthy and he'd fall back in the rotation again.
In December, Booker was playing almost 27 minutes per game, but that number dropped off by five minutes each month up until March when he started to get more playing time.
From December through February, Booker's offensive production really slowed down, but in April, he started to find his rhythm again.
In Washington's last nine games, Booker played in over 20 minutes and was taking very smart shots.
On Monday, he went 4-of-4 against the Miami Heat, and in the final game of the season against the Boston Celtics he missed just four of his 13 shots. Booker is taking a lot of momentum into the postseason, but this has been an inconsistent year from him, which hurts his overall grade.
Drew Gooden was just what the Wizards needed in March. With Nene out, he came in and learned Washington's play style quickly, earning some major minutes in games that would decide Washington's playoff fate.
Since then, Gooden has fallen off, but fans will remember Gooden's March even after the postseason is over.
Appearing in six games in April Gooden averaged just 3.2 points on 36.4 percent shooting, compared to March when he played in 16 games and averaged 10.3 points and six rebounds while shooting 56.2 percent from the floor.
Heading into the playoffs, it's hard to say if Gooden is done, and he only had a month of solid basketball left in the tank at age 32. But if he can find even half of what he conjured up in March, the Wizards will be utilizing him off the bench.
Although he got paid in the offseason like a starter, Martell Wester has adopted the mindset and role of Washington's sixth man.
He had to start a few games with Trevor Ariza out with the flu, but Webster has mainly served as a heat-check guy off the bench this season.
The Wizards are one of the best teams in the NBA in shooting corner threes, and Webster is a big reason why. If John Wall can get to the basket, you can expect Webster to be in the corner waiting for a pass to catch-and-shoot a basket.
Webster has also been great at drawing four-point plays to swing the momentum of games, something that is magnified in the playoffs.
Sure, Webster's numbers fell off from last year, but he is playing less and only started 13 games compared to 62 last year. Take Webster for what he is—a three-point specialist who plays best off the bench—and the Wizards' faithful have to be happy with what Webster provided this year.
Nene is averaging more points, steals and blocks and is shooting about two percent better than he was last year.
He only played in 53 games this season, but when he was on the floor, Nene was incredibly valuable to the Wizards.
When the Wizards have the five-man rotation of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene and Marcin Gortat play the most minutes out of any rotation, they win 68.5 percent of their games, according to 82games.com. Simply put—the Wizards are a much better team with Nene than without him.
Having Nene on the floor allows the Wizards to spread out around the three-point line with Nene and Gortat down-low and both Nene and Gortat can score from the restricted area.
The Wizards need Nene in the playoffs if they want to compete with the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and Nene seems to be up to the challenge as long as he's healthy.
It now seems like so long ago that Wizards fans were panicking that Emeka Okafor was going to be out. Who would defend the rim? Who would play center? Can the Wizards keep up their strong defensive identity without him?
Marcin Gortat ended up answering all those questions, making giving up a first-round draft pick for him seem totally worth it.
Gortat has been huge for the Wizards this year. He only missed one game all year and recorded 37 double-doubles, the highest season total for his career, and he was only a half rebound per game away from averaging a double-double.
He's also been a great defender for the Wizards, leading the team in blocks and holding opponents to 50.1 percent shooting at the rim with him guarding, according to NBA Stats.
With Gortat and Nene on the floor, the Wizards know they won't get pushed around down low and they should be confident in Gortat's play heading into their first-round series.
At 28 years old, Trevor Ariza is having a career year. He is approached his career-high in points and ended up setting career highs in rebounds, three-point shooting and field-goal shooting.
The Wizards ended up tying the Golden State Warriors for fourth in the league in three-point shooting percentage, and Ariza is a huge reason why.
On the offensive end of the floor, Ariza patrols the perimeter and waits for John Wall to create an opportunity for him to shoot from three.
In catch-and-shoot situations, Ariza is making 43.4 percent of his shots, according to NBA stats, and he allows the Wizards to spread out on the floor to make driving lanes for Wall.
From a statistics perspective, it's hard to tell what Ariza means to Washington from a defensive perspective since he doesn't put up block or steal numbers, but he can guard on the perimeter and shut down a team's best scorer on any given possession. Just look at this defense of Stephen Curry at the end of a game against the Warriors in February (h/t to Kyle Weidie of Truth About It).
In just his second year in the league, Bradley Beal is second on the Wizards in points per game and is growing to be one of the top shooting guards in the league.
He can shoot from the corner off assists from John Wall, and he has also improved his ability to get to the basket.
Beal shot over 40 percent from three this year, and his shooting percentage improved by almost eight percent in games that the Wizards won compared to games they lost.
Between competing in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star week and the three-point competition, Beal made a name for himself in the league this year and established himself as the second scoring option for Washington behind Wall.
But, Beal still has deficiencies in his game that can't be overlooked heading into the playoffs. Both Wall and Beal have a tendency to settle for mid-range shots that they just can't hit.
He also had a terrible month of March when he shot less than 40 percent yet was taking his most shots in a month since November.
Still, there's no doubt that Beal improved this year over his rookie season out of Florida and making the playoffs in his sophomore year in the NBA will go a long way toward setting the groundwork for the rest of his career.
John Wall's narrative has stayed the same all season when doing these grades. He is only getting better.
Wall is the leader of the Wizards and sets the tone for the team in every game. He made an All-Star team, improved his jump shot and took the Wizards to the playoffs, which is everything he needed to do this year to establish himself as an elite NBA point guard.
His biggest strength continues to be driving to the basket, as Wall is the fastest player in the league while handling the basketball besides maybe Ty Lawson. According to NBA Stats, Wall made almost 50 percent of his shots when driving to the hoop, scoring more points than anyone else on the team on drivers.
This ability also leads to open shots for Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza on the wings for three, which is the basis for Washington's offense.
Wall isn't the most polished product still, and he has room for improvement in the years to come. But it would be rude to give him anything but the highest rating given the big year he's had.