Webster's health pivotal to Wizards' success

Webster's health pivotal to Wizards' success
September 18, 2013, 8:45 am
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With improvements are Wizards a playoff team?

I wrote about Otto Porter this week, stating that based on the information I've gathered since he was drafted, at Las Vegas summer league and in the aftermath, that the pressure isn't on him to start.

In part, it's because of Martell Webster, who began as a reserve and became a starter 16 games into his first season here. 

Webster signed a four-year, $22 million deal as a free agent in July, giving him the full mid-level exception instead of breaking it up over multiple players. 

Webster, who ended the 2012-13 on the injured list because of an abdominal strain and had two back surgeries before coming to Washington, averaged a career-high 11.4 points and 42.2% from three-point range. That improved to 53% with John Wall on the floor. 

Webster fit so well into coach Randy Wittman's offense, it pushed Trevor Ariza, who had been in the starting lineup until he sat with a left calf strain, to the bench.  

The Wizards took a risk by giving Webster a longer deal than expected, but his locker-room influence adds to his value.

Going into the June draft, when the Wizards selected Porter at No. 3 overall and traded for shooting guard Glen Rice, they made no secret of intending to only use two of their three picks. They were determine to not add too much youth. 

Wittman, as did president Ernie Grunfeld, wanted more veterans. 

Naturally, Wall will be the focal point if the Wizards are to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Webster's responsibility, however, shouldn't be overshadowed. He must justify the hefty raise from $1.6 million a year ago. 

He has been training at Verizon Center for most of August and his abdominal strain appears to have healed.

Provided Webster is able to stay healthy -- he last played all 82 games in 2009-10 season with the Portland Trail Blazers --  he should be among those leading the way for when training camp begins Sept. 28.

Not following rookies. 

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