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Welcome Al Harrington

August 14, 2013

Jacob Raim |

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John Wall and Bradley Beal finally have their stretch four.  Wall has been on the record multiple times this offseason about how much the Wizards need a big man who can stretch the floor with comments like, "I feel like we need a four man that can pick and pop, so we'll just see."  Al Harrington is here to fill that role.  A 6'9", 245-pound power forward with 15 years of experience (but still just 33 years old), Harrington was drafted out of high school in the first round of the draft in 1998 by the Pacers.  Prior to being drafted, he was the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and USA Today Player of the Year after his senior year of high school.  Over his NBA career he has averaged 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and has shot 44 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc.  He is one of only five active players in the league to be averaging at least 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent or better from the field and 35 percent or better from the three-point line for their career.  It's a pretty good list to be on, also including Durant, Love, Pierce and Nowitzki.  He's played for six teams, most recently with the Magic last season. He missed almost the entire season due to a staph infection following surgery on his right knee, and also from not fitting into the Magic's rebuilding campaign.  In 2011-12 though, he was one of the top subs in the league with the Nuggets, where he averaged 14.2 points per game and shot 45 percent from the field.  Harrington's best year was probably in 2008-09 with the Warriors and Knicks where he averaged 20.1 points per game.  Harrington also will immediately be one of the Wizards' most experienced playoff performers, having appeared in 48 postseason contests during his career.  He was a part of Indiana's 2004 run to the Eastern Conference Finals (a year which also saw him as the runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year) and a part of the 2007 Golden State team which upset top-seeded Dallas.  

What Harrington brings to the table first and foremost is that ability to stretch the defense out to the three-point line.  Harrington has been a good shooter his entire career, and an exceptional one at times, especially during a 36-game cameo with the Pacers in 06-07 where he shot .458 from beyond the arc.  During his last full season with the Nuggets, he was over 40 percent on corner threes.  Harrington is a guy who will not be afraid to shoot the rock, as with the exception of last year's lost season, he has shot the ball at least nine times a game every year since '01-'02.  Harrington brings good ball skills for a forward so is not afraid to put it on the floor when he needs to.  Harrington should provide solid defense in the blocks as he graded out above average during his last full season with the Nuggets.  Denver allowed 1.5 points fewer per 100 possessions (according to when Harrington was on the floor, and he had a net rating of +4.8.  Over recent seasons he has perfected a defensive move called 'pulling the chair,' which is more or less as it sounds.  Check out an example of him 'pulling the chair' on Blake Griffin here.  As he has made the transformation from a three earlier in his career to a four, he has developed into an above average pick-and-roll defender.  He is an average rebounder, but that won't matter if he is playing in tandem with Okafor, who posted elite defensive rebounding rates last year.

The Wizards needed more scoring off the bench and somebody who can stretch the floor.  Harrington will provide both of those things.  He should be one of, if not the first big off the bench, a role he is clearly comfortable with as he's started under half of his games during his NBA career.  He's also somebody that can get seriously hot in spurts, as the Wizards know full well.  Harrington has been a Wizards killer over the last several seasons, averaging 21.8 points per game over his last 11 contests against Washington.  During his stellar 2010 season, he absolutely torched the Wizards for 37 points in a Knicks overtime victory and in 2012 went for 29 while with Denver.  His willingness to shoot the basketball will play well with a second unit that struggled to score at times last year.  When playing with Wall and the first unit, his career 35 percent three-point shooting mark will be utilized as Wall creates open looks for him.

Harrington needs to prove he is healthy during camp after what amounts to a lost season with Orlando, but on paper it looks like the perfect fit for Washington, a veteran stretch four who gives Wall and Beal what they have been clamoring for this offseason.  He is another experienced big man who can help mentor the likes of Singleton, Vesely, Seraphin and Booker.  When the Wizards are pushing for a playoff spot late in the year, he's a guy who has been there before and can lead by example.   

And sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.