Even without John Wall applying the pressure on his teammates, Garrett Temple wanted to make sure he was one of the first to show up in Washington for voluntary workouts.
The Wizards will officially begin training camp on Sept. 28, but most of the players have been lifting weights, doing skill work and holding open gym runs in town for the past three weeks. Temple said the objective was to set a foundation for an upcoming season that the players hope will result in the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2008.
“Guys have been putting in a lot of work,” Temple said while participating in a Wizards basketball camp at Dunbar High in Baltimore. “A lot of guys have come in early, so we’re building that camaraderie and we’re going to have a pretty good team this year. I’m very excited for this season.”
For the first time in his career, Temple enters an NBA training camp with the security of a guaranteed contract. Temple, however, does not have a guaranteed spot in the rotation after starting 36 games last season while filling in for both Wall and Bradley Beal.
Coach Randy Wittman gave the versatile, 6-foot-6 swingman an opportunity to play significant minutes because of his ability to defend multiple positions and spare Wall from all of the ball handling duties.
The competition for minutes with be more intense this season with Wall and Beal both healthy, the team signing veteran Eric Maynor to serve as Wall’s primary backup, drafting Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. and signing Al Harrington to bolster the perimeter. Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza are also expected to get some time in the back court.
Temple said he has spent most of the offseason working on his jumper to help spread the floor for Wall. When he signed his deal in July, Temple added that he was ready to fight for his spot.
“My goal is to win and be the best team we can be,” Temple said in July. “Personally, I want to be the best player and I can be and play to the best of my ability. I don’t set any goals in terms of stats, because sometimes you can’t control some things that will determine that.”
Over the past few weeks, Temple has had the opportunity to get familiar with the tendencies of his teammates and is encouraged about the Wizards’ chances to contend for a playoff spot. That hasn’t changed despite losing starting center Emeka Okafor and backup forward Chris Singleton to injury this week.
“It affects it,” Temple said, when asked about postseason plans with Okafor out indefinitely, “because Mek was a great player for our team, a defensive anchor. We’re going to miss Mek, but that just gives other people a chance to step up and Kevin [Seraphin] has been playing real well for us over these past few weeks, as well as Trevor Booker getting healthy. Jan [Vesely] has been playing great overseas. Jan has been playing real well.”
With all of the new pieces added, Temple said the Wizards will have a “transition period” but he believes the early start will prove to be beneficial.
“It’s good in terms of building our chemistry on the court, as well as off the court. Everybody has had their moments,” Temple said. “Glen can really put the ball in the basket. Eric is a guy that can really run the team, real steady. John has really improved his shot. I might not need to say that, because we might need to keep that under wraps, so they can keep going under the screen, because he’s really improved his jump shot.
“Kevin has playing real well for us as well. Brad has gotten real healthy and stepped up his game,” Temple continued. “Everybody has really improved his game over the summer and it shows, guys have been working. Everybody is trying to do their part.”
When asked about his part, Temple replied, “I’ve been playing pretty well myself. Feeling more comfortable, in my role…We’re very ready. Very excited. Let’s get it.”