Keys To The Palace: Young, Hinrich Step Up In Arenas' Absence

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 18: Nick Young #1 of the Washington Wizards drives to the hoop against Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat at the Verizon Center on December 18 2010 in Washington DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this Photograph user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The post-Gilbert Arenas has gotten off to a good start, with a narrow loss to the Heat and the Wizards' first victory by over 20 points since February 2008.

Of course, if you know anything about Wizards basketball, this shouldn't come as a shock to you, since almost every era gets off to a good start in Washington. The Flip Saunders era got off to a good start. The Josh Howard era got off to a good start. The Alonzo Gee era got off to a good start. The Earl Boykins era got off to a GREAT start. The Ed Tapscott era got off to a good start. Most of the Gilbert Arenas post-surgery eras got off to good starts too. The only era that seemed to get off to a bad start around here was the John Wall era.

So as we move forward, don't be surprised when the Wizards return to losing games the same way they have over the past few years. But until then, let's appreciate who has stepped up in the void created by the Gilbert Arenas trade.

Keys To The Palace

Player Week 8 PER Week 7 PER Difference Comment
Nick Young 16.9 16.8 0.1 With John Wall out and Gilbert Arenas on the move, Nick Young had to take on the role of primary scorer this week. He knew he had to take it to the rim more this week without those two around to create open looks. He came through with some very complete scoring performances throughout the week, getting to the rim and the stripe better than he has all season, which the team will need moving forward. And if he can keep making plays like thiswe just might have to revive Monumental Air.
Kirk Hinrich 12.9 13 -0.1 Kirk Hinrich took 50 shots this week, which is never a good sign, but it's what has to be done when Wall and Arenas are out of the lineup. He did everything you could ask, given the situation, racking up two double-doubles, hitting the boards, coming up with 8 steals and playing all but six seconds against the Heat
Josh Howard 12.5 N/A N/A In his six games as a Wizard, Howard has only posted a negative plus/minus in one game. With that said, we must remember a big part of his success so far has been riding the momentum from the Caron/Antawn trades when he first arrived and now the Gilbert Arenas trade. Can he still have a galvanizing effect on the team when the energy leaves the building? Can he avoid becoming part of the problem when things go wrong? We'll see this week.

Guest Passes

Player Week 8 PER Week 7 PER Difference Comment
Kevin Seraphin 8.2 4.5 3.7 Physciality has been an area where the Wizards have struggled for quite some time, so it's encouraging to see Seraphin continuing to earn playing time by doing the dirty work. He continued to destroy the glass this week, snagging 13 rebounds in 24 minutes of playing time this week. That, and his rock-solid picks have helped him carve out a niche in the rotation.
Al Thornton 11.3 10.4 0.9 Thornton's big game against the Kings last week carried over, as he hit double-digits in all four games. His rebounding is still down from where it was at the beginning of the season, but at least now he's giving himself a chance to compete for some playing time at a position that's now logjammed with Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis.
Trevor Booker 13.1 12.5 0.6 Booker's shooting touch is still coming along, but it was encouraging to see him make more trips to the foul line this week. Coming into the week, he's only attempted 16 free throw attempts. This week, he got to the line for 13 attempts and made 12. Until he gets more comfortable making that mid-range jumper, he's going to have to get to the stripe to be an effective scorer.
Andray Blatche 14.9 14.5 0.4 Blatche's 20 & 12 in the first game back from injury against the Heat was encouraging, but he needed 21 shots to get there. Against Charlotte, his efficiency improved, but it's still not where it should be for someone who needs to be a big part of the offense, especially now that Arenas is gone.
Lester Hudson 5.7 N/A N/A Where was that Lester Hudson at the start of the season? He scored 8, and chipped in 6 assists and 3 steals in 17 minutes against the Bobcats in his return to the roster on Monday night. A lethargic Bobcats defense undoubtedly helped Hudson pad those stats, but it's still a step in the right direction.
Hilton Armstrong 7.9 9.7 -1.8 Not gonna lie, I was tempted to put Armstrong in the Palace based solely on his Dream Shake against the Nets, but considering that move made up nearly one-fifth of his scoring this week, he'll have to settle for a guest pass.

Locked Out

Player Week 8 PER Week 7 PER Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 18.5 19.3 -0.8 Outside of his stunning highlights, McGee's game lacks depth. Apparently, his game also lacks depth perception.
Cartier Martin 13.2 14.7 -1.5 It becomes more and more clear with each week that Flip Saunders role for Martin is to come in for a few minutes, take a few threes and hope he makes enough to make his outing worthwhile. That means the only way to really evaluate his performance is check his shooting numbers, and this week, they weren't good. He only connected on 3 of his 12 shots and missed out on some chances to help the team keep pace against the Lakers, where he only went 2-6 beyond the arc.

NOTE: Rashard LewisHamady Ndiaye and Yi Jianlian were left off this week's Keys to the Palace since they did not play enough this week in order to be evaluated properly. John Wall was excluded due to injury. Gilbert Arenas was excluded because he's on the Magic now, as you may have heard.

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