It wasn't until after the All-Star break that Drew Gooden began to surge. He started the season opener and led the Wizards with 18 points when Nene was out with a suspension. His time quickly dwindled but when the Wizards needed a makeover to make another postseason push, Gooden jumped in the rotation because of his energy, hustle and long-range shooting ability. When coach Randy Wittman used him over Kris Humphries in a regular-season game with the Toronto Raptors, the results were much better than previous failures against their small-ball design which set a foundation of what was to come with a four-game series sweep in the first round.
The stats: 5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 39% three-point shooting.
The improvements: The transformation is complete with Gooden, who isn't just an occasional three-point threat but now a true stretch four. Gooden lived at the arc and just as importantly was better at stepping away from the rim to defend players such as Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson (Toronto Raptors) than Nene or Kris Humphries. On a team that sometimes lacked the energy to secure 50-50 balls, Gooden stood out because he went after everything.
The next step: If Gooden stays, that creates a logjam with Nene and Humphries as both of them have a guaranteed season. If Wittman stays true to his word, Nene would be moved out of the power forward spot and play backup center to Marcin Gortat. Then Gooden and Humphries, the latter of whom is a mid-range shooter and energy player, too, make a better duo. Of course, if the Wizards draft another player at this position or acquire a better quality one in free agency, they'll have to cut somewhere. If Gooden re-signs with the Wizards and they acquire another player for the position, too, that's an indication other moves will come.
2014-15 grade: B.
2015-16 outlook: Gooden is an unrestricted free agent and as long as he wants to play he'll be on an NBA roster. Given the direction the Wizards want to go, a 6-10 forward with three-point range off the bench seems to be a good fit. They could offer him a two-year deal with the final being a player option to give him flexibility because he has been a good teammate and locker room influence. They did it with Garrett Temple last summer. But Gooden is no longer receiving amnesty checks from the Milwaukee Bucks so whether or not he's willing to accept the veteran minimum to stay in Washington remains to be seen. He could generate a slightly better offer even at 33 though likely not more than two years. He has shown he can help playoff teams that need size and versatility off the bench.