What the Washington Wizards get in Al Harrington

Al Harrington’s deal with the Washington Wizards has been in the works for days. Al flew in for a physical yesterday and now the deal is official. It also didn’t take very long for Al Harrington to bring flaunt his cocky, confident persona for the Washington fans. Harrington guaranteed that the Wizards would end their five year playoff drought this season.

Lets hope for our sake–and his, too–that he’s correct. Harrington may be the missing piece as a ‘stretch 4’ that John Wall and Bradley Beal have been clamoring for the last few months. But before we go assuming that Harrington will come in and shoot the lights out, lets examine what, exactly, the Wizards will be getting in Al Harrington.

Last season with the Magic, Harrington had no impact because he was not allowed to. The situation with a team that was just starting a rebuilding effort was not favorable for him and he only played in 10 games last season. He didn’t start in any of the games and when he did play, he was at the center spot.

Because of that, we’ll disregard that sample of Harrington’s production and go to his next most recent. That would be the 2011-12 season with the Denver Nuggets in which Harrington shot 45% from the field, 33% from beyond the arch and scored 14.2 points per game in 27.5 minutes.

Harrington was a decent fixture in Denver, but by no means was he a key component. His versatility is likely what kept him on the roster. He was able to play the small forward and power forward positions for the Nuggets whenever he was called on. He was the backup to Danillo Gallinari and gave the Nuggets a similar skill set to lean on.

Taking a look at Harrington’s shot chart points out some serious flaws in his most recent work:



Harrington is a below average shooter in five of the 14 hotspot zones that NBA.com has on their stats database. He’s an average shooter from above the break and he’s electric in the right corner from three. Once you get to the left side of the floor with Harrington, he’s 8.9% below average from the left wing and 6.6% below average from the left corner.

Lets take it a step further by examining his shot distribution:



As you can see, 22% of Harrington’s shots came from the right side of the floor that he was so bad on. Only 13.5% of his shots came from the side that he shot average to above average on. Luckily for us, Harrington isn’t a midrange shot taker. Only 14.6% of his shots come from there. He takes 45% of his shots at the rim where he’s an average league shooter.

Harrington shot 45% in total from the field in 2011-12. That isn’t a bad percentage at all. What we should hope for from Harrington is that he either improves his shooting from the left side of the arch or takes more shots from the right side to balance his three point shooting out.

He shot 33% from three that season, but his career average from three is 35%. While that isn’t too far away from his percentage in that year, its still two percentage points higher. Taking it back two years further with the Nuggets, Harrington shot 36% from deep that season. Here’s his shot chart from that 2010-11:



As you can see, his numbers are closer to average above the arch. Harrington had a much better season overall here. He shot 42% from the field, but that was because almost half of his shots were three point attempts. Out of 9.2 shots per game, 4.5 of them were threes for Harrington. In Denver’s run and gun offense that’s pretty commonplace.

The Wizards may implement a similar, although not as blistering, pace as the Nuggets have over their last few seasons. He had some of his best years with the Denver Nuggets and will hope to replicate that with the Wizards.

Harrington is a minus defender, so he may not get too many extensive minutes unless injuries bite the Wiz in the butt again. He may play somewhere between 20-25 minutes per game–25 being an extremely good day. He’ll likely gobble up minutes from Kevin Seraphin at the power forward position and he’ll be able to play some small forward in a pinch, too.

Overall, this is a pretty good pickup by a team that is looking to improve itself offensively. If their defensive system is as consistent as it was last season, Harrington could be that key cog that puts them at an above average offensive level. That’s all this team needs to really make it back to the playoffs.

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