“I’m in a position where I can prove myself again.” — Al Harrington
When the Washington Wizards filled their 15th roster spot with the signing of Al Harrington, most Wizards fans got excited. And rightfully so. Big Al brings 15 years of NBA experience, 13,012 career points, and 943 career made 3-pointers to a Wizards team that lacks offensive firepower off the bench. This is the type of free-agent signing that the Wiz community has been waiting for. A solid veteran willing to take the minimum salary to come play in Washington.
The newly signed PF was dealt some serious injuries last season that limited him to 10 games, but make no mistake about it, Al Harrington is ready to play. When asked in his introductory press conference why he chose Washington, he stated “I’m in a position where I can prove myself again.”
When looking at the roster, Harrington figures to be the first PF off the bench. He’s a solid upgrade over the current slew of forwards that Washington deploys off the bench and will add a much needed scoring punch when the starters start to get a breather. And on top of that, he can be the “stretch 4” that we have all been hoping for. Big Al is a career .352 shooter from downtown and excels at corner threes, which just so happens to be where John Wall likes to feed his shooters. When asked what else he brings to this Wizards team Harrington added, “I’m going to bring an attitude…and try to be a nasty tough team.” That is the sign of a true veteran who is ready to help a young team take the next step.
Big Al also brings some real flexibility to the line-up. He can play SF if called upon and will give Nene or Okafor a rest when needed. When he subs for Okafor, Nene would slide to the center position and give Washington a legit run and gun lineup with Wall/Beal/Martell/Harrington/Nene. Don’t be surprised if that becomes Washington’s closing lineup as well. That gives the Wiz Kids their best scoring bunch and as we’ve seen from last season, crunch time scoring can be this team’s achilles heel. I can’t help but get excited about a lineup of J-Wall surrounded by three shooters and our best post scorer in Nene. And Harrington is excited as well stating, “I don’t see why we won’t make the playoffs.”
Washington was a top-10 defense last season, and although Big Al isn’t known for his defensive prowess, that’s not what he was brought here for. Harrington is a tough, gritty veteran player, so he won’t be hurting the Wizards on the defensive side of the ball, but his real contributions will be trying to boost last season’s 28th ranked offense. Harrington knows there will be questions about how he can bounce back from his injuries but as he put it, “I perform better when my back is against the wall.”
Al Harrington will be the oldest player on the Wiz Kid roster at age 33 this upcoming season. He will be looked upon for his leadership by not only the players but the coaches. While only appearing in 48 career playoff games, that’s still 48 more than our core of J-Wall and Brad Beal have played in. With the playoffs as this team’s goal, Big Al certainly helps in getting them there. When asked if last year he could envision himself playing for the Washington Wizards he sort of chuckled and said not really. But he followed that up with, “I’m happy I’m here now.” We as fans should also be happy he is here now.