Garrett Temple is a young 27 years old. He has been on seven different rosters in the last four years (he didn’t make a team for the 2012 season) and had never played more than 334 minutes until he logged a whopping 1156 in 2013. Temple has never been expected to do much and the Wizards probably didn’t project him to play over 20 minutes a game when he was signed last December. But now that he is the fourth guard on the roster as opposed to a spot starter, he serves a specific purpose which he actually fits well. There isn’t all that much to be expected from Temple this year, but to consider the 2014 season a success for Garrett Temple, there are a few things we need to see:
A Bit of a Jumper, Please
Garrett Temple’s minutes will come exclusively with either John Wall or Eric Maynor flanking him, meaning he will do little ball handling. This is good for the Wizards as Wall and Maynor are both better distributors and decision-makers, but also bad because it means the guard combo will include exactly zero three point shooters. In today’s NBA, it is tough to generate offense if your guards cannot stretch the floor. Temple drew much criticism from myself last season as he would often step in from the three point line to take spot up mid-range jumpers, a shot any defense would love for him to take since deep-two’s are considered the worst shot in basketball. His hop in from the three point line reminds me of dead eye shooters in the 1980s and early 90s who would do the same thing, assuming the shot from a bit closer in was more effective. The Wizards’ staff has to alert Temple that even if he only hits 30% of those shots from one hop further out (a 3 pointer), they are still better shots (he hit 44% on mid-range J’s last year). If Temple can stretch the floor at a 33% clip, the offense will be exponentially better than the 94 point per 100 possessions produced while he was on the court last year, which is about what you would expect from one of the worst offenses ever. The Wizards can’t have that, especially with Emeka Okafor’s defensive presence out indefinitely.
Temple will be deployed this season in short bursts to wreak havoc on opposing back courts. He’ll likely be expected to give it all for 5-10 minutes a game and contribute next to nothing on offense. This is obviously Temple’s meal ticket and something we expect to see. If Wall’s defense improves as we expect it to, and Okafor comes back this season, a 5-man unit of Wall-Temple-Ariza-Nene-Okafor could produce the best defensive numbers in the league. That is obviously intriguing enough to keep Temple on the roster and give him some run.