During a busy offseason, the Wizards addressed their lack of depth in a big way, adding forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair and retaining Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. Suddenly, the Wizards have a crowded front court, with several bigs fighting to work their way into the rotation. If the team adds Al Harrington with it's final roster spot, the Wizards will have 7 players who play either the 4 or 5 battling for a limited number of minutes. It's not a bad problem to have, and the extra depth will help come playoff time or in case of injury. But the Wizards will have to do some maneuvering to fit everyone in.
Center Marcin Gortat averaged 32.8 minutes per game last year, highest among their big men. Gortat is the Wizards's best two way big man, and they aren't likely to cut into the minutes of their $60 million man. The team has the luxury of resting him more if need be, but he's still likely to average around 30-32 minutes a game. That leaves about 15-16 center minutes to go around, with Blair and Humphries the likeliest candidates. While undersized, Blair played center in college and seems comfortable at the position, so he's probably the favorite to be the first center off the bench, with Humphries, Gooden and Seraphin able to play the 5 if need be.
The biggest change in minutes will likely come from Nene, who averaged 29.4 MPG last year. Given his injury history, the team will likely roll back his minutes to make sure he stays fresh, especially near playoff time. He may also play off the bench more often, a tactic the Wizards experimented with last year. While Nene and Gortat play well together, Nene's ability to be a secondary play maker makes him a asset for the second team unit. He'll likely average around 24-25 minutes a game and serve as a sixth man more often.
The biggest benefactor of this potential move would be Humphries, as these extra minutes should allow him to play close to the 18 MPG he's averaged for his career. Humphries has improved his filed goal percentage and free throw percentage in recent years, and his offensive improvements, coupled with his rebounding prowess, make him the most well-rounded off the Wizards' reserve big men.
This leaves Gooden, Seraphin and Harrington as the odd men out, with Gooden the most likely of the three to ever receive substantial minutes. He won;t approach the 18 MPG he averaged last year, but he should be able to get about 8 or 9 minutes to work with. Seraphin and Harrington will likely be used as scoring specialists off the bench, due to Seraphin's penchant for instant offense and Harrington's ability to stretch the floor.
The Wizards will have to use some tactical thinking to find minutes for everyone, but thankfully each big brings something different to the table and should be able to play a specific role. In addition, the competition for playing time should keep everyone sharp and motivated. Some may argue that the Wiards overcompensated a big by crowding the frontcourt a little too much, but the ability to spell Nene and Gortat and the ability to easily insert someone new into the lineup in case of injury are luxuries the team weren't afforded last year and could prove crucial as the season goes on.
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Tags: Al Harrington, Basketball, DeJuan Blair, Drew Gooden, Kevin Seraphin, Kris Humphries, Marcin Gortat, NBA, Nene, Washington, Washington Wizards