The Washington Wizards have added three veterans to their lineup over the last few weeks and it has been paying off as of late. The Wizards got Al Harrington back from injury, acquired Andre Miller in a trade with the Nuggets, and just offered Drew Gooden his second 10-day contract. All three have been around the block and are not the players they once were, but they could be and have been useful so far as the Wizards near the playoffs.
Out of all three of those players, Miller will certainly make the biggest impact moving forward. He is a veteran point guard who can control a game and run a second unit as well as any backup point guard in the league. Since Miller has arrived the Wizards are 6-1 and are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Miller has not been spectacular, only averaging 3.9 points per game in 13.7 minutes, but a lot of the things he does don’t show up in the box score. He is a guy that does all the little things. He controls the tempo, gets the team into their sets, and can get his own shot when he needs to. He is averaging three assists per game to only 0.7 turnovers. You have to remember Miller is coming off a couple months of not playing basketball after his differences with Brian Shaw in Denver. He will get into rhythm and continue to help this team in any way that is needed.
Harrington returned to action, after a knee injury that sidelined him for almost three months, the same game Miller put on a Wizards jersey for the first time. He is averaging 5.3 points over the last seven games. He provided a big spark off the bench in the Wizards last game, scoring eight points, pulling down four rebounds, and dishing out three assists in 21 minutes of action. He has looked better then I expected. Being 34 years old and coming off injury, I expected Harrington to be more of an emotional leader, not a player who would be seeing 21 minutes in a tight game. But he has looked good and surprisingly quick on his feet. He brings a toughness and veteran swagger to this team. You can never have enough of that on a team. If Harrington can find his three-point shot (2-of-14 from three in the last seven games), he will be even more valuable for the Wizards.
Drew Gooden is the last guy. The Wizards just signed him to another 10-day contract, so he will be around for at least 10 more days. The Wizards must either sign Gooden for rest of the season or waive him after these next 10 days are up. Gooden was a non-factor in his first two games, but looked like a mad man possessed to get that second 10-day contract in the third game. And he did. He scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds in 19 minutes in the win over Utah. He is a big body who will give the Wizards six fouls a night and that may be just enough for him to stick with the Wizards for the rest of the season. We will see.
Neither of these three guys are going to win a playoff series for the Wizards by themselves. Miller is the player that will bring the most to this team down the road, but all three guys could make an impact. All three can provide a breather for starters. Also, with Nene out for a month, Gooden and Harrington will be needed in some games to play key minutes for the Wizards frontcourt. The old man trio has been giving the Wizards solid minuntes in their early stints and could be poised to continue that for the Wizards as they enter the final stretch of the season and head into the playoffs.