At some point, every basketball player’s body breaks down. You can be the hardest worker, but age always catches up to you. It is just the nature of the game. It looked like that had happened to 15-year veteran Al Harrington. After only playing in 10 games last season for Orlando, the stretch 4 has only seen action in seven Wizards game this season after he had to undergo surgery knee surgery to remove loose particles in his right knee. It looked like the end of the tunnel was just a few steps away for Harrington. But it does not appear that way and according to Harrington, he plans on being ready to play shortly after the All-Star break.
This may not seem like a big deal, but if reports are true that Harrington has been looking very good in practice, then his return could have a nice impact on the Wizards season as they continue to push for the playoffs.
Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported that Harrington “dominated” a four-on-four scrimmage last Thursday while playing against some of the backups. He looked so good that coach Randy Wittman “let him get a little action in Saturday’s practice, signaling that Harrington’s return might not be far away,” according to Lee.
So, what can Harrington bring to the table for the next part of this Wizards season? First off, he brings a type of leadership and experience that no one else can really bring on this Wizards team. Harrington has been around the block. He has played in the league for 15 years, for seven different teams, and has appeared in six postseasons. Experience always helps down the stretch of a season and with Trevor Ariza really being the only other one to have postseason success, those two are vital to help young guys like John Wall and Bradley Beal strive as postseason play quickly approaches.
It is not just in the locker room or on the bench where Harrington will have his only impact on this team now that he will be playing again. He can really help the Wizards on the court, but he has to be and stay healthy.
Before going down with the injury about three months ago, Harrington averaged 7.9 points per game while shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc in 18.6 minutes of action. He is a player that can really stretch the defense and open of driving lanes for the Wizards guards. Also, since he mostly plays exclusively on the perimeter, he has the ability take opposing bigs away from the basket and allow Wizard big men Marcin Gortat and Nene to have open space to operate on the block. The stretch 4 has become a huge part of the NBA and rightfully so, because when a big is knocking down shots it opens up so many different options on offense. If Harrington can continue to knock down around 40 percent of his 3s, he will be a good piece off of the Wizards bench.
This is one of those things where we really just have to wait and see. Harrington could look awesome one minute then tweak something the next (knock on wood). However, if he can find health for the rest of the season and moving into the playoffs, the Wizards will a little more dangerous heading into the playoffs.