Last year, Martell Webster was signed late in the off season without much hope of him making a significant contribution, yet he ended up being one of the most consistent contributors on the team, if not the most consistent.
And although it has only been three preseason games, it's looking more and more likely that Al Harrington could be this years Martell Webster for the Wizards. Harrington was signed long after the free agency craziness subsided and most looked to him as the occasional stretch four who would only be asked on to play in spurts. Not many thought he would play a large role for this team..
An injury to the club's defense stalwart Emeka Okafor and the lack of development from the Wizards young forwards, whether it be lack of skill or injury (Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, and Chris Singleton) led to the opening up of a lot of minutes in the front court. And with not many more viable options, Harrington might be seeing quite a few more minutes this season than anticipated, unless Randy Wittman is satisfied with throwing out Booker and Vesely on a consistent basis.
Luckily for Wizards fans, Harrington has looked healthy and somewhat agile for a 33-year-old with a lot of NBA mileage on his body over the years. He has shot the ball well, giving John Wall the stretch four he has desired, and has even shown his ability to drive off the dribble, with some success early on. This offense provided by Harrington would be a huge boost for the Wizards' second unit, ot to mention his skill set meshes perfectly with Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene, as he gives them room to operate by keeping the defense honest with his outside shot.
Now, if he was completely healthy and fresh, there is no doubt in my mind that he would win the starting PF spot while Okafor was out. However, he is some what fragile and his minutes need to be handled accordingly. Nevertheless, it is clear the minutes he is on the floor (somewhere from 15 to 25 a night), he will be asked to provide a spark offensively and it seems he will be able to do just that.
It seems like Grunfeld found a great steal here, because without him we'd be trotting out Vesely, Booker and Seraphin as our 2nd-4th bigs. At the very least, Harrington is a proven rotational player, and no one else currently on the Wizards roster in the front court besides Nene is that. Much like the case was with Webster last year, I expect the Wizards to be a much better team when Harrington is on the floor the year.
Here's to hoping Al can duplicate Martell's Magic!