It wasn’t exactly a gamble, the 10-day contract that the Washington Wizards extended to Drew Gooden in late February, but the small token of trust morphed into an invaluable investment for the Wizards during their push into and through the playoffs.
With Nene and Kevin Seraphin out with knee injuries, the Wizards turned to Gooden, who had last suited up on April 6, 2013, with the Milwaukee Bucks. Four games into his first of two 10-day contracts, Gooden’s impact was clear, from his physical play, infectious energy and ability to stretch the floor from the forward position. In 22 regular season games, Gooden averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Although his role diminished some once Nene returned just before the playoffs and he appeared to run out of gas at times, especially on defense, Gooden had his moments, such as the 12-point, 13-rebound performance in 18 minutes of play during Washington’s Game 1 win against Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Here are three numbers that stood out during his late-season stint with the Wizards:
Gooden’s rebounding percentage in the regular season, tops among Wizards players. Though he’s generously listed at 6 feet 10, Gooden is shorter than most of the power forwards he goes up against. The fact that he’s still able to slide inside and come up with key boards proved critical in igniting the Wizards’ up-tempo attack and creating second-chance opportunities. While some might point to the 22-game sample size as the reason for his lofty rebounding percentage, Gooden grabbed 17.4 percent of the Wizards’ boards in the playoffs, again tops among the team. His most impressive showing came in the aforementioned Game 1 against Indiana, as he tirelessly corralled balls and tipped in buckets to jumpstart a Wizards offense that had stalled for parts of the second half.
Gooden’s PIE (Player Impact Estimate), according to NBA.com/stats. The number measures a player’s contributions to a team while on the floor and other than John Wall (13.5), no one on the Wizards did more than Gooden. Though he didn’t get as many touches or looks at the baskets, Gooden’s knack for hustling, rebounding, passing and defending make him a utility player of sorts. He’s reliable in that he doesn’t turn the ball over often and he’s more concerned with setting up his teammates for offensive looks rather than seeking his own opportunities to score. During Nene’s 21-game absence, the Wizards went 12-9 and remained in playoff contention thanks to Gooden’s 10.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in 18.9 minutes of play.
Gooden’s shooting percentage on mid-range attempts. There are a number of players with better mid-range touches than Gooden — Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki come to mind — but there’s a reason why Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fell in love with Gooden’s #midrange game. With Gooden stretching the floor and preventing opposing forwards from sagging in the lane, space was opened up along the perimeter for Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza to knock down shots.