WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Washington Wizards overloaded on small forwards this offseason by adding Otto Porter with the No. 3 pick, and re-signing Martell Webster to a 4-year contract, proving that after five straight years of missing the playoffs, they’re ready to contend.
Re-signing Webster seemed a strange move at the time, considering the Wizards are essentially paying him $22 million to come off the bench, with Porter inevitably taking over the starting role.
Perhaps the Wizards fans have been so starved for winning basketball, they’ve forgotten depth, and players competing for playing time is a good problem to have.
At just 26-years old, Webster already has eight seasons under his belt as one of the last of the straight-to-the-NBA era. Statistically, his contract is justified. In 2012-13, he posted career numbers in multiple categories, and outplayed his career averages in almost every category.
In 28.9 minutes per game (24.3 career), he shot .442 from the field (.419 career), .442 from beyond the arc (.384 career), and 85 percent from the charity stripe (78% career), for 11.4 points per game (8.9 career).
“Plain and simple man, my career has sucked. I’m not trying to be funny at all,” Webster told Lavar and Dukes matter-of-factly Thursday.
“Honestly, to me it feels like my come out year was last year,” he said. “It took eight years to get there, but I finally did it right?”
Webster has fought off the injury bug throughout his time in the NBA, playing less than 65 games on four separate occasions, but was reliable for the Wizards through 76 last season, even as core guys like Bradley Beal and John Wall struggled to stay on the floor.
“As far as from a physical standpoint, my career, to me has sucked because of all the setbacks I’ve had,” Webster said. “And last year was the first year out of my whole career where I felt comfortable, and I felt like last year was my best year of my career.”
Webster embraces his future role with the Wizards, although he insists the trio he forms with Trevor Ariza and Porter will create matchup problems for opposing defenses.
“There’s going to be some times where I play four, because you know, the league is starting to develop into this small ball,” Webster said. “Being able to play a little swing – two, three, four – is big, so there might be times where it’s a John [Wall] point guard, me possibly at the two, three or four. Trevor is Otto. We might all be playing together at one time. Who knows.”
This new-found depth yields a new competitive intensity within a Wizards roster that won just 29 games last year.
“Expectation-wise, we expected to win 30-plus games last year. That was our goal,” Webster said.
“This season is like, our expectations are, we ARE getting to the playoffs,” he said, adding they’ve set their sights as high as the five-seed in the Eastern Conference.
It’s a new day in Washington, one which brings very real playoff expectations.