Wake-up call: Banged-up Webster dips down the stretch

Wake-up call: Banged-up Webster dips down the stretch
March 25, 2014, 6:00 am
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Martell Webster insists he's more concerned with how he plays defense because that fuels his offense. After having the best season of his career and signing a four-year deal for $22 million with the Wizards last summer, however, he hasn't found that next level in his role as a backup at the most crucial time of the season.

With a playoff seeding is on the line for the Wizards, they're regressing as a unit. They went  1-3 on the road last week. Webster averages 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and shoots 39% on three-pointers for the season, but he hasn't scored more than eight points in a game since March 10 when he put up 17 in a 99-90 loss at the Miami Heat. He has made only 6 of 24 three-pointers since that game. 

If Bradley Beal or Trevor Ariza isn't on their mark, Webster, who averaged a career-high 11.4 points last season, has to help plug that void. The spark hasn't been consistent. He knows it, and his uneven moods behind the scenes reflect it. 

The reason for the drop-off? Webster started 62 games in 2012-13 because the roster was decimated by injuries and he flourished on the floor with John Wall. He also was healthier, although in the offseason he required surgery to repair an abdominal tear. 

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He conceded the starting role for this season early in training camp, declaring that Ariza was more deserving to start at small forward. Ariza is having a career season and hasn't disappointed.

Webster has injured his left ankle in the preseason which later knocked him out two games and has been bothered by back soreness that has forced him out of two more games. He has made 13 starts this season, averaging 13.8 points and shooting 44.5%. In 53 games off the bench, Webster adds 9.3 points and shoots 42.7%. His three-point shooting doesn't change much as it hovers around 39% regardless.  

Drew Gooden has been the boost off the bench that the Wizards need in the post without Nene. Webster, who is averaging a shade less than 29 minutes per game as a reserve which is equal to his time as a starter last season, has to perform to a similar level on the perimeter if they are to have a legitimate chance at making it past the first round of the playoffs. 

Ariza is a free agent after the season and if he bolts that could bump Webster up the rotation, unless rookie Otto Porter lives up to his promise as a No. 3 overall draft pick. Moving him would prove difficult given the size of Webster's contract, his production and injury history.