32 year old Drew Gooden has been a major surprise for the Washington Wizards since he was signed to a ten day contract. In fact, Gooden has been playing so well that the Wizards first signed him to another 10 day contract and subsequently signed him for the rest of the season. In his eleven games with the Wizards Gooden is averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds off of the bench. The versatile forward has displayed the ability to knock down both mid- range and three point jump shots showing an uncanny ability to get open. Gooden’s value is also often shown in the small, often unnoticeable plays that crucial glue guys make. Even with a small sample size of eleven games it is clear that Drew Gooden pours his heart and soul into the game. Charges, offensive rebounds and extra passes are important pieces of the game that the wily veteran brings to the table.
Let it not be forgotten that Gooden was brought in by the front office to replace the injured Nene who is still a couple of weeks away from returning. The Wizards needed to replace a veteran big man who performed in all facets of the game and that is precisely what they have gotten with Gooden. Now that Gooden has proven himself as a valuable asset, when playoff time rolls around, the Wizards will have gained that much more depth. The Wizards will go from what was perceived to be a thin front line, to a relatively deep, veteran frontcourt. In the playoffs, which barring a catastrophic collapse are likely, should foul trouble arise, a number of proven veterans like Gooden and Al Harrington will be more than ready to step up.
As for the future of Drew Gooden with the Wizards, that picture is a lot fuzzier than that of the remaining regular season. With Gooden entering this upcoming offseason as a free agent, there is no doubt that he will have offers from other teams in desperate need of a veteran big man presence. The Wizards have a medley of free agents this offseason and it’s up to the front office to decide where he ranks on that list. If they are able to resign Gooden on a cheap contract which seems unlikely given his recent play, that would serve as a great signing.
In the near future however, Gooden should play a huge part in this team’s playoff run. He brings a large quantity of playoff experience which only a few other current Wizards possess. Gooden also has shown the ability to take over the game in stretches by knocking down consecutive shots and making key defensive plays. How the Wizards implement him in to the rotation once Nene returns will loom large as this team should find itself in the playoffs for the first time in this decade.