As the Washington Wizards enter the NBA Summer League with a good amount of young and potential studs in their line up, they’re also looking to keep their core from last season in tact. This is a much different basketball team when they have all their players healthy and on the court at once as indicator of their record before Wall’s injury and after. While there’s no denying the importance of a potential max contract guy like John Wall, the tough play of Bradley Beal, the size and rebounding of Emeka Okafor, and the leadership and talent that Nene brings to the roster, we can’t overlook the importance of Martell Webster. Not only was he one of Washington’s best shooters and amongst the top 3-point threats in the league, but he instilled a huge sense of relief and you could see the positive impact he was having on the player on the team.
For a large majority of the season with Wall on the shelf, the team seemingly had no identity. Besides the fact that their offense was stagnant and they lost close games, the Wizards never really had a guy that they could turn to when things weren’t going well. As John worked his way back in to the line up, Martell Webster did everything he could to be “that guy” the Wizards needed. As his play improved, you could see everyone else around him starting to play better; even before John came back. You could see Bradley Beal regain his confidence and started shooting the ball more consistently, Okafor was looking like his old self with double-double’s on a consistent basis and the overall defensive effort improved dramatically because of the amount of hustle that Webster gave night in and night out. Guys on the team saw the amount of effort he was putting in to each game and despite the record, they did their best to give it their all. While there are many factors (especially health) for the turnaround of the team following their horrible start, I truly believe that Webster in the line up makes the Wizards a much better team moving forward.
The Wizards don’t have much money to spend and it’s important for them to also target a back up point guard for John Wall. With A.J. Price unlikely to return, this sets the table perfectly for Garrett Temple to be an everyday player in Washington’s line up. Washington seems to be pretty set at the small forward position after drafting Otto Porter and having Trevor Ariza already on the books but Martell’s energy and hustle I feel makes him Washington’s top priority as far as offseason signings. He’s expressed that he wants to stay here in Washington and his teammates have expressed the same feelings. This is a good problem to have if you’re the Wizards.
The amount of depth you have in your front court could make this team that much more explosive and dominant on both ends of the court. While most people would argue that having a crowded front court can lead to chemistry issues and match up problems, I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with having consistency and talent up and down the roster. There are a lot of options that the Wizards still need to explore. If they decide to resign Webster, this now makes Ariza trade bait. In a perfect Ernie Grunfeld universe, Washington would love to have their number three overall pick start the first game of the season, but in a realistic world, that probably will not happen. That’s why having Webster signed and ready for the start of the season is a must for this team. Besides the obvious talent that Martell possesses, he’s quickly become a fan favorite and someone the community has embraced. If the Wizards are serious about their idea of #NewTraditions they need to continue to reward the players who give it their all night in and night out; on and off the court.
Bring back Martell, start him with Wall, Beal, Nene and Okafor and I believe that’s a starting five that’s playoff caliber.