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Wizards need midrange magic from Drew Gooden in postseason

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Drew Gooden was a force in the midrange for the Wizards during their run to the playoffs. Can he keep it for a full year (including the playoffs) this time around?

Rob Carr

This is our ninth Summer Checklist piece where we break down an area of weakness each player on the roster can improve. Previously: Bradley BealJohn WallMarcin GortatNene | Otto Porter | Paul PierceKris HumphriesGlen Rice Jr. | Martell Webster

Drew Gooden arrived in D.C. last February with almost no expectations. The team took a flyer on him with a 10-day contract and he turned into a nice addition to the bench along with his other fellow AARP members. Any expectation from him was to be a veteran presence who can play hard in any scrap minutes thrown his way. But he carved out a better-than-expected role with the team as a knockdown midrange shooter who battled especially hard on the offensive glass.

Heading into the 2014-2015 season, though, Gooden will be expected to continue in that role, most likely in similar 15-20-minute per game fashion. And since "be younger and quicker" isn't fair advice for improvement, I had to look elsewhere for what the man with few expectations should improve upon.

I noticed a major decrease in offensive production once the playoffs rolled around. Check out the two charts below, detailing his shooting percentages from specific spots on the floor during the regular season and during the postseason:

Regular season

Screen_shot_2014-09-25_at_3.44.59_pm_medium

Postseason

Screen_shot_2014-09-25_at_3.41.11_pm_medium

Obviously nearly four less minutes per game in the playoffs will alter a few things, but with such big dips in production during the postseason, something clearly needed to be fixed. And again, since "make your shots" isn't much better advice than "be younger and quicker," it's slightly more understanding with the major dips that we saw from Drew:

  • His true shooting percentage was 19-percent higher in the regular season than the postseason.
  • His effective field goal percentage was 18.8% higher in the regular season than the postseason.
  • His player efficiency rating was 8.9 points higher in the regular season than the postseason.

Gooden's number was called more often than expected and even though 18 minutes and 14.6 minutes in the regular season and postseason, respectively, aren't huge minutes, there were plenty of stretches during games when Bullets Forever writers and readers alike were hoping to see Randy Wittman give him a breather.

Bench players need to master a specific part of the game in order to see minutes. A younger Gooden had more responsibility than that, but at this point in his career his clear-cut niche on this team is knocking down midrange jumpers, followed by using his veteran savvy to outwork or outmaneuver opponents for good rebounding position. The major dip in postseason offensive production, therefore, was troublesome.

He was a pleasant surprise during the season. A 10-day contract flyer who in fact won some games for the team and had a heck of a lot of fun in the process. He created some extra excitement and his mini-beef with David West during the Pacers series was awesome. And, who else could shoulder shrug their way to helping get the team a huge win late in the season against Brooklyn? Or create probably the first shoulder shrug-off in League history, against DeMarcus Cousins? Or make Nick Young look like a complete goofball while getting ejected in L.A.? Well, I guess anyone could make that last part happen...

With the front office beefing up the front court for the upcoming season, Drew coming off the bench to hit some jumpers and give the Wizards some second-chance opportunities while producing big-time momentum shifts in the process will be vital. And we'll see if his drop in production was just a coincidental slump or if it will become an unfortunate reoccurring postseason theme the next time around.