"Put Number 3 in the game" a fan yelled out, decrying the fact that the minutes restricted Bradley Beal was on the bench against Atlanta and Randy Wittman favorite Garrett Temple was on the court. Even as the crowd quieted as Kris Humprhries went to the foul lines, the laments continued, "PUT NUMBER 3 IN THE GAME" before Paul Pierce shut it down as only Paul Pierce could.
Garrett Temple will never be a player that inspires the masses to buy his jersey or who has fans chanting his name. He's the Wizards "utility infielder" according to Randy Wittman, filling in adequately wherever the team needs him to play.
For the first part of the season, that meant Temple took the role of starting shooting guard in the absence of Bradley Beal. Though Temple didn't bring Beal's perimeter scoring presence and the gravitational pull on defenses that Beal brings, he did prove himself a competent defender with an improved three point shot. The Wizards ceiling as a team is lower without Beal, but replacing him with Temple in the lineup is adequate enough to get the job done against the lesser lights of the NBA. At times may even have the benefit of avoiding some of the ineffective plays that are force fed to Beal for midrange jumpers and replacing them with more efficient plays run for Wall, Pierce, Nene or Gortat.
Overall, the Wizards are 9-3 with Beal not playing and Porter (2 games) or Temple (10 games) starting. The Wizards lineup featuring Wall/Temple/Pierce/Nene/Gortat is only 1.8 possessions per 100 worse than the Wall/Beal/Pierce/Nene/Gortat lineup, with the caveat that the level of competition that Temple faced as a starter in the early season was lower.
|Lineup||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net|
|Wall, Beal, Pierce, Nene, Gortat||108.7||98.3||+10.4|
|Wall, Temple, Pierce, Nene, Gortat||94.7||86.2||+8.6|
Stats via Basketball Reference
Temple has also played the roll this season as the Wizards emergency third point guard, filling in when Randy Wittman wanted a more defensive oriented guard than Andre Miller (which in fairness, would be nearly anyone). Last year, Temple took Eric Maynor's spot when Randy Wittman wanted a more playing basketball not horribly kind of guard, and filled in decently until the Wizards' acquired Miller.
That's Garrett's Temple's role on this team, to be ready for anything but also be ready for nothing. After starting the first 13 games of the season, Temple saw more than 5 minutes in exactly one game (against lightweight Minnesota with Pierce out with an injury) between late November and his reemergence in late January against the Suns.
Now that Bradley Beal is out once again with injury, Temple's role has once again increased to being a key cog in Randy Wittman's rotations. Temple will ill likely once again provide the Wizards with diligent, adequate and unspectacular play until Beal returns. Is replacing your budding star shooting guard a big ask from a 14-15th man? Perhaps, but blame roster construction for that, not Temple. Temple is limited offensively but still boasts the best defensive rating on the team, at 94.4 per NBA.com.
As for that earlier Atlanta game, they put #3 in the game, but Temple was more than adequate in his time on the court, scoring 5 points and having 3 assists in under 15 minutes. And his counterpart, that Atlanta shooting guard who's terrorizing the league with his three point shooting prowess? Temple was draped all over him while he was on the court, preventing him from making a single shot.