8.3 ppg | 5.2 rpg | .531 FG% | .412 3P%
Impact on the Team
During the 2011-12 season, Drew Gooden was quite a productive player. Over 26.2 minutes per game, he averaged 13.7 points, 6.5 boards and 2.6 assists per game for Milwaukee. When 2012-13 rolled around, it was a little bit of a surprise that the Bucks decided that they had no use for Gooden, but they were going with a big time youth movement. Gooden appeared in just 16 games that campaign, and was amnestied at season's end. Nobody decided to pick Gooden up heading into 2013-14, and this would be in the Wizards' favor when Nene went down in February, and the Wizards were desperate for some front court depth. On February 26th, the Wizards signed Gooden off of the street to a 10 day deal, and by the time that was up, he had already shown plenty to warrant signing him for the rest of the year. It took him two games to get acclimated, but by his third game, he chipped in 12 points in 19 minutes, and while Nene was out for the month of March, he averaged 10.3 points on 56% shooting and six rebounds per game. When the playoffs rolled around, he came up with a couple of big performances in the second round against Indiana.
Most guys who sign 10 day deals have not had the level of success that Gooden has had in the NBA. After all, this is a guy who has played for 12 years and has averaged 11.7 points and 7.5 boards per game in his career. Virtually from the day he was signed, Gooden stepped right into the second unit with guys like Harrington and Miller to form what was affectionately referred to as the 'AARP Unit.' Gooden was quite an effective offensive player, shooting a tidy 53% from the floor, including a very effective midrange game. Gooden finished the regular season 35/67 from midrange, giving the Wizards offense a very different look when he was in the ballgame. His midrange offensive game basically forced Wittman to give him crunch time minutes, as it really opened up a lot of lanes for Beal and Wall. He even shot 41% from three to keep defenses truly honest.
While Gooden's offensive performance was solid, it may have been his work on the glass that endeared himself to Wittman the most. He finished the year with the highest overall rebounding percentage on the team, pulling down 17.5% of available boards when he was on the floor. His 13.8 rebounds per 48 minutes would have ranked 18th in the NBA had he played enough to qualify, tucked right in between his teammate Gortat and Anthony Davis from the Pelicans.
Gooden's play hit a peak during one fine week in March (15th-21st) when he averaged 17 points and 8.75 boards over a four game stretch. This included a 21 points, nine rebound outburst against Brooklyn during one of the most memorable games of the season, in which the Wizards made a big fourth quarter comeback in front of a raucous Verizon Center crowd. It also included his only double-double of the regular season, an 11 point, 11 rebound effort in a win over the Lakers. When the playoffs rolled around, Gooden found himself more or less out of the rotation in the Chicago series, as Wittman shortened his bench and gave the majority of his minutes to Trevor Booker. That script was flipped in the Indiana series, as Gooden played a huge role in getting the Wizards off to a running start in game 1. Gooden became the first player in the modern era to score at least 12 points and grab at least 13 rebounds in 18 minutes or less of work, as the Wizards grabbed game 1 in Indiana. He also played big minutes in game 4, which was a tight loss in DC, where he had 10 points and four boards.
Gooden's general effect on the team was notable, as his energy was infectious. Gooden could be seen frequently trying to pump up his teammates and showed tons of emotion after big hoops. His experience and veteran savvy was truly appreciated by his teammates and coaches, and is certainly a reason that he is going to be coming back for the 2014-15 campaign.
It's becoming clearer what the Wizards front court rotation will look like, and it is clear that Gooden will be a part of it. Gooden is officially coming back. He will undoubtedly continue to fill the role of a stretch big man off the bench, especially helping keep Nene fresh as the season moves along. Gooden is going to be in a spot he hasn't been in for a couple of years, one in which he'll have a full training camp, be (presumably) healthy and will know his role going into the year. Gooden should be in for another nice year off the bench for Washington.