At $26 million, a relatively small number based on the free-agent market this summer, Andrew Nicholson could turn out to be a top five bargain for the Wizards.
The 6-9 forward was a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Magic in 2012. He came to Washington after averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in four years but his role under coach Scott Brooks is broadening.
With Ian Mahinmi out because of left knee surgery, Nicholson is logging time as a backup center to Marcin Gortat, too, and his improving three-point stroke is giving the Wizards a legitimate spread five option.
“He can score down low at the block. He’s done a pretty good job of picking up how to guard the perimeter players that can shoot 3s,” Brooks said. “He’s played multiple positions at those two big spots. You need versatility. He’s picked things up pretty good.”
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Aside from a variety of low-post moves and not shying away from physical play with his 250-pound frame, Nicholson made 47% of his three-point shots. He shot a career-high 36% from deep in Orlando last season.
He uses his lower body well to get into defenders and establish position under the basket. He can finish via jump hook with either hand. When Markieff Morris leaves the floor, Nicholson will be the next man up. He has been effective in spot minutes as the center. They may have stumbled upon a wrinkle that otherwise might not have been so obvious with Mahinmi, who was sitting out practices at training camp with other ailments.
“He definitely has an old-man game. I think we’d be the 1 and 2 pick in the YMCA pickup game," Brooks said. "He knows how to play the game. There’s definitely a spot for guys like Drew He knows how to play the game. He understands his role. He’s not going to wow you with athleticism but he’s going to be a consistent performer every night.”
That quality alone will make Nicholson an upgrade.
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