The ‘AARP Unit’, a term coined by head coach Randy Wittman to describe a lineup consisting of 38-year old Andre Miller, 34-year old Al Harrington and 32-year old Drew Gooden, will not be back in its entirety for this upcoming NBA season.
The Washington Wizards have decided to not retain Harrington, who recently signed to play in the Chinese Basketball association, while acquiring both Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair this off-season, which will likely cause Drew Gooden to play a lesser role this upcoming season.
Of the three players who made up the ‘AARP Unit’, Andre Miller is the only one who’s expected to play somewhat of a big role this upcoming season, granted he’ll only play 15 or so minutes per game behind John Wall. Drew Gooden was also re-signed to the veteran’s minimum, but he’ll likely see the court a lot less than he did this past season when he was the Washington Wizards’ third big man.
Even though the Washington Wizards’ bench was primarily made up of players who were nearing the end of their respective careers, the second units production increased dramatically once Andre Miller took over as the backup point guard over Eric Maynor and Garrett Temple. Miller’s ability to score in bunches with his unorthodox offense as well as his distributing were on full display late in the season, especially in the NBA Playoffs.
Miller’s presence on the court was evident in Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA Playoffs where he helped lead the Washington Wizards back from a double digit deficit, eventually getting a road win after being down by as much as 13 points in the third quarter. Miler took advantage of D.J. Augustin‘s size, getting multiple baskets inside the paint, which helped give the Washington Wizards the momentum they needed to take control of the game.
The Washington Wizards picked up the team option on Andre Miller’s contract this summer, and he’ll remain the backup point guard in the nation’s capital for this upcoming season.
Miler helped stabilize the Wizards’ second unit from the guard position, but Drew Gooden and Al Harrington gave Randy Wittman some much needed production from both front court positions after Nene went down to injury late in the season.
Gooden’s ability to hit the outside shot and rebound was enough for the Wizards to remain afloat in the Eastern Conference while Nene rehabbed and was eventually reinserted back into the lineup. Despite not playing for the majority of the season and likely wouldn’t have gotten another chance if the Wizards didn’t call, Gooden averaged over 8 points and 5 rebounds with the Washington Wizards while sporting an above average Player Efficiency Rating (18.44), earning himself another year in D.C.
Harrington, similar to Gooden, helped give the Washington Wizards some relief off the bench. Although he was out for most of the year due to injury, his presence in the locker room and occasional scoring off the bench late in the season was certainly meaningful.
But, now that the Washington Wizards have revamped their bench this summer, we probably won’t be seeing much of the AARP Unit this upcoming season.
While Miller, Gooden and Harrington were effective for the Washington Wizards last year, it was obvious that they needed to get younger and more athletic, so that’s exactly what they did this summer.
So, will the Washington Wizards miss the AARP Unit this season? Yes and no.
Miller and Gooden will continue to provide veteran leadership, but the loss of Harrington could potentially hurt in that regard. Harrington served as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards’ summer league team in Las Vegas this summer and he helped lead the Wizards through some tough losses throughout the year.
I think it was important for the Wizards to get more athletic and they did so this off-season. Perhaps the Washington Wizards could form a new AARP unit with Andre Miller and Paul Pierce? Last year’s second unit was fun to watch, but it was time to move on.
Will you miss the AARP Unit this upcoming season? Let me know in the comments section.