The best way to shake the bad memories of a season as dismal as this one is to finish on a high note. That way, it becomes easier to focus on the future, rather than dwell on the past. The Wizards are doing their best to put the past out of sight and out of mind with their play, racking up impressive wins over Golden State and Boston.
Since the team is holding up their end of the bargain, let's use this week's Keys to the Palace segment to focus on the each player's positives as we head into the off-season.
One of the underrated aspects of Blatche's growth this season has been his ability to stay out of foul trouble. His 3.5 fouls per 36 is the lowest rate of his career. If he can avoid fouling out in the final two games of the season, it would be the first time he has gone an entire season without fouling out since 2006-07. That season, Blatche only played in 56 games and only played over 30 minutes twice. To contrast, this season he's played over 30 minutes on 36 different occasions, yet he has managed to avoid that dreaded sixth foul all season long. Kudos, Andray.
Not bad for someone who started the year as a free agent.
Cedric is still 10-1 in NBA games that he has played in this season.
He's still lacking an outside shot, but it's hard to complain about anything regarding Livingston's scoring ability right now. This week, he shot 69.2% from the field. And just in case you were wondering, he also had a 2.5:1 assist to turnover ratio this week.
As good as he's been, especially during this last month, I have to agree with Mike when it comes to Shaun getting a payday this summer. There are going to be some teams interested in his services, but teams are not going to use anywhere close to the mid-level exception on a player with a long history of injuries, especially in an off-season where the cap is expected to go down and teams are clearing out room for max free agents.
That said, he's been awesome this season and I hope he gets a solid pay day for his output this summer.
Martin probably would have liked to score more than 7 points against the Warriors, his former team, last Tuesday. Still, I'm sure he's satisfied with the win and the opportunities he has been given to show off his talents before the off-season starts.
McGee kept the good time rolling this week with two double-doubles including his breakout against the Warriors where he set career-highs for points and rebounds. Thankfully, he and his new friend are taking his recent success in stride.
Only five players are averaging more than 10 points per game, 6 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game this season. The players on the list are LeBron James, David Lee, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, and Mike Miller. I'll let you guess which one of those five has managed to pull that feat off while shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.
Fab has never been one to dominate the stat sheet, but the man knows how to make instinctual plays that can help get his team out of funk. Case in point:
Offense has never been his forte, but his on/off stats show he still makes an impact on the defensive side of the floor. Hopefully the roster changes this summer will allow Quinton to re-establish himself as a defensive role player off the bench next season.
Singleton's production has fallen off since his breakout performance against Indiana last month, but he still brings a much-needed physical presence on the defensive end. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see him back in Washington next season.
Thornton may not be the most complete player on the team, but as he continues to learn more about how he fits in with this squad, he can become a very apt role player in Washington.
Barring a drastic slump over the final two games, Nick will enter the off-season on a high note. He's scored at least 10 points in each of his last six games and nine of his last 12. Rebounding and passing are still works in progress, but Flip seems to be getting closer to channeling Nick's immense scoring capabilities.
Like any coaching job, there are minor things that you can nitpick Flip about this season. But on the whole, it's hard to find a lot of fault in Flip's performance this season, especially given the circumstances he has been forced to deal with for much of the season.