We're in October which means the Major League Baseball playoffs are in full bloom. Simply noting the calendar seeing as the best term describing Garrett Temple's value for the Washington Wizards comes from the national pastime.
The yearly plan rarely starts with Temple high in the Wizards rotation. Yet ever since he landed in Washington on Christmas Day 2012, somehow the lengthy guard ends up there. Even though Washington added several perimeter players this summer, no reason to think the 2015-16 will be any different.
"Hey man, I'm blessed to be in the right position at the right time," Temple said when the initial plan premise is mentioned. "Try to take advantage of my opportunity. I just have to be ready and come back healthy, be ready whenever my name is called.
"Like [Wizards coach Randy Wittman] always says -- what's the word he always uses? Utility infielder. I think that's my thing."
During his 178 games with the Wizards, including 54 starts, the 6-foot-6 Temple has filled many a role. His length allows him to guard all three perimeter positions. His basketball smarts provides the team with a point guard fill-in. His team-first mentality keeps the LSU product focused even if games go by without him taking off his warm-ups.
"I stay ready whenever I'm called upon," Temple said. "My versatility is what helps me stay on the court."
In theory, the Wizards added playing time roadblocks with the additions of free agents Gary Neal and Alan Anderson, and first round pick Kelly Oubre Jr. Same on some level for swing forward Jared Dudley, who the Wizards acquired via trade to primarily play minutes at stretch-4.Neal, Anderson and Oubre will vie for minutes behind Otto Porter and Bradley Beal, Washington's starting small forward and wing guard respectively.
Temple, whose status is uncertain for Friday's preseason game at Philadelphia due to a sore hamstring, will as well.
"I think when I get healthy I'll be in the mix for that wing spot behind Otto and Brad," he said this week.
Temple started 18 games last season primarily due to Beal's preseason injury and averaged 14.2 minutes overall. Those particular numbers figured to decline once the Wizards addressed their wing depth.
Now Anderson is sidelined following ankle surgery with no timetable for return established. Dudley only participated fully in practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing back surgery this summer. Oubre shows promise, but potential doesn't always equal consistent minutes for any NBA rookie. That's largely been the case under Wizards coach Randy Wittman especially if there are veteran options to lean on.
When Wittman looks for perimeter help, he often turns to the reliable Temple.
"I love having guys like that on the team that can sit there and then step in. He believes in himself and his teammates believe in him."
Washington added these new players specifically in part because of their 3-point shooting ability. Though not a strength historically for Temple, he sank a career-high 33 shots from beyond the arc last season with a 37.5 percent clip.
"We've really, really worked on his jump shot," Wittman said when asked about the evolution of Temple's game. "That's been the main thing and I think we've seen progress. That span when Brad was hurt, he shot the 3 as good as he's shot the 3 in his career up through that stretch."
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) October 14, 2015
Though his shot was falling in the preseason opener against the 76ers on Oct. 6, the LSU product nearly completed a triple double with seven points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 24 minutes during the 129-95 blowout win. There will be chances for productive stats playing Washington's new up-tempo offense. Temple recognizes his rebounding could be key with the Wizards using more small ball lineups.
Ultimately, Temple is no home run hitter. He will make his mark this season defensively. That and being ready when needed. Even though Anderson also provides defense, Neal shooting touch and Oubre pure potential, ultimately Temple will find his way into the lineup That's just how it's worked for him in Washington.