We'll be evaluating each Wizards player, as well as coach Randy Wittman, in this series.
Previously: Bradley Beal | Trevor Ariza | Trevor Booker | Marcin Gortat | Al Harrington | Randy Wittman | Drew Gooden | Andre Miller | Nene | Otto Porter | Glen Rice Jr. | Kevin Seraphin | Chris Singleton | Garrett Temple.
Garrett Temple has been a breath of fresh air for this organization. He was called up from the NBA Developmental League back in December of last year, beat out Shelvin Mack for the job and started 36 games for the Wizards as they tried to right the ship without John Wall and eventually Bradley Beal in February. He earned the right to come back on a one-year deal last offseason and has proven to be Randy Wittman's fallback option whenever things go awry.
His professionalism may not be as tangible as, say, his poor jump shooting, but it's necessary for a team that's built up as much camaraderie as the Wiz this past year. He's the team's representative for the players union and his leadership qualities has stuck out since joining the team. Go to a Wizards game and you'll see Temple pulling teammates aside before and after timeouts just to talk things over.
What were our preseason expectations?
The front office brought Garrett back on a one-year deal primarily as a safety net. They had already come to terms with free agent Eric Maynor, and the draft selections of Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. meant more time for Martell Webster at shooting guard.
But they knew they needed Temple. He was a steady ball handler in the absence of John Wall and A.J. Price the year before, and his size and defensive versatility gave Wittman the option of using him anywhere in the backcourt.
How did his performance square with those expectations?
Like last year, Temple came in for the floundering Eric Maynor and proved to be another solid stop-gap until the Wizards were able to find a real backup point guard at the trade deadline. He never really stands out in the flow of the offense, which often became problematic for a second unit that looked borderline inept prior to the formation of the AARP unit. But he was just good enough to get by under Wittman. Witt was satisfied with Temple's change-of-pace and ability to get the offense into its' sets while pressuring opposing ball handlers on defense. Maynor was unable to meet those standards and was soon enough benched.
Defense was Temple's big calling card. He enabled Wittman to cross-match with his guards, often allowing Wall and Beal to rest on less-threatening players while Temple assumed the burden on the tougher matchup. But while the defense generated a ton of steals through deploying Wall and Trevor Ariza as ball-hawks, Temple was more conservative in his approach. He rarely overplayed passing lanes, choosing instead to lock-and-trail his man around screens. He expertly used angles to cut off drives to the basket and challenged jump shooters by crowding them. And his ball denial was always excellent; those precious seconds wasted on trying to get the ball to the point guard forced offenses to get into their sets a lot later than usual.
But there's a reason why he's bounced around the league. It's hard to hide him on offense because he cramps the floor spacing so much and he's not a threat to cut to the basket and finish either. Beal's uptick in ball handling duties has simply rendered Garrett useless on this end because he's not a threat from anywhere on the court.
If he leaves, what will the team miss most?
Defense and leadership. The front office will have to weigh the pros and cons during the draft and free agency. Do they bring in a second rounder and hope he can develop under the tutelage of Andre Miller next season? Or do they use some of the mid-level exception to bring in a combo guard in free agency?
Maybe they continue to subscribe to continuity and bring Temple back. It wouldn't be the end of the world, and I'm always a fan of bringing back locker room favorites.
But I am torn on this decision. I thought they made the right move in bringing him back last year, but I can't help but look past the pre-AARP second unit. Beal will surely take another step next season as a ball handler to address those concerns, and I have to believe Otto Porter does the same, but you can never have enough scoring threats on the floor. However, we are talking about the 14th or 15th man on the roster, so maybe all of this is moot.
Final Grade: C
Say what you want about the floor spacing, lack of offensive output, or whatever, Temple came in and saved us all from #MaynorTime. He stepped up and was ready when he had to be, and while he took a backseat once Andre Miller was brought on, you have to commend him for always being ready. He came in at the end of games when he hadn't seen the floor all night to help stave off teams in the closing seconds. I'll probably never be a fan of Wittman making those calls in late-game situations, but if he's going to do it, it might as well be Temple.