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Why Andrew Nicholson is going to be a huge factor for the Wizards’ bench this season

NBA: Preseason-Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After missing out on big name free agents (once again) Washington decided to use their remaining cap space to bolster their bench. One of their first additions was Andrew Nicholson, who previously played four seasons with the Orlando Magic.

Nicholson wasn’t able to live up to expectations and underperformed throughout his time in Orlando. Even though he is a versatile big man who can spread the floor and hold it down on the low block, he just couldn’t find a consistent role with the Magic. However, in Washington he’s showing he has all the abilities to be a great stretch four in the league and be an important factor for Washington’s bench this season. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table:

1. His pick and pop ability

Nicholson had his up and downs in Orlando, but he started strong in his rookie season. He averaged 7.8 points, shot 52 percent from the field, started 40 games averaged nearly 17 minutes per game, which are all career highs for him.

The thing that helped him get playing time early in his career was his ability to space the floor in the pick-and-pop game. Watch how he makes Toronto pay for daring him to shoot from the midrange area.

Nicholson finished with 22 points on 10-14 shooting from the field during that game. Since then he’s increased his range and is now a reliable threat from beyond the arc. He’s 7-15 from beyond the three point line so far during the preseason.

2. He isn’t just a set shooter

People know Nicholson can shoot, but he can still make his presence felt when they try to drive him off of his spot. Watch how he gets Hassan Whiteside to bite on this pump fake and then drive inside for the layup:

Later in the game, he pulled off a similar move:

His awareness to drive into the lane is impressive for a player his size and his ability to catch his defenders off guard gives him more chances to create and-one opportunities in the paint.

In years past, the Wizards have worked with fours who either couldn’t shoot or couldn’t do much with the ball if the defense kept them from getting a good shot off. Nicholson’s ability to do both will make the Wizards harder to defend when he’s on the floor.

3. All around game on both ends

Because Nicholson can space the floor and drive when needed, he’s also useful in more traditional big man functions. Watch how he crashes the lane on this play from Tuesday:

This was on one of my favorite plays from that game. Nicholson and Burke executed a great pick and roll and he made a nice move in the paint that allowed him to finish for the three point opportunity.

Nicholson has also shown promise on the defensive end. Here’s a play from a game earlier in the preseason against the Knicks where Ron Baker tried to sneak in for a layup but Nicholson anticipated the play and swatted his shot away:

While he may not be known as a great shot-blocker (he’s never averaged more than 1 block per 36 minutes) this play gives you an idea of how he can be useful on that end, even if it’s just to contest a shot rather than block it. Don’t forget, he played under 3 head coaches in Orlando who executed very different defensive schemes. Hopefully, Scott Brooks will give Nicholson some clarity and consistency for his role on that end this season.