Keys To The Palace: When An 0-4 Week Gives Signs of Encouragement

0-4 is not good, but when those games are 2 pairs of back-to-backs, 3 of the 4 games are on the road, and all 4 are against teams with .500 or better records right now, I can stomach it. Even more to the point, in a season where winning isn't everything, there were some signs of encouragement in the team's performance. The front ends of those back-to-backs were both solid, with a tough loss to the Knicks, and a double-overtime loss to one of the NBA's best teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

We are still 0-23 on the road, but that road win is close (at Cleveland on February 13th anybody?) and the overall performance against the Thunder is more important than the result, as tough as that can be to swallow.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 14 PER Week 13 PER Difference Comment
Trevor Booker 13.4 12.6 0.8 The easiest call this week, by far. He was the key in the OKC game and I really shouldn't have to elaborate on the performance, but he then turned around and managed 12 and 12 yesterday. He clearly needs to keep getting minutes, but his play has been that of a long-term building block.

 

Guest Passes

Player Week 14 PER Week 13 PER Difference Comment
Mustafa Shakur 18.9 39.1 -20.2 Mustafa played well again, and if it weren't for the disappearing minutes, he'd get a key again. Captain Kirk was bleh, so why not keep giving Mustafa minutes? 6 minutes in a double-OT game when the team had a game the next night, and then 0 with Captain Kirk back is not a good sign. I know roster space is tight, but I sincerely hope this isn't the last we see of him. 
Nick Young 15.5 15.7 -0.2 Not a good week for Sushi. The 13-33 against OKC wasn't as bad as it looks, because, as Mike pointed out, the Wizards force fed him out of necessity. There were 3 awful fadeaways off of the dribble that looked like the old Nick, but most of the other 30 shots didn't completely offend me. I have a hard time locking him out though given that he goes into the last game of January with the following line for the month: 21.3 ppg, 45.1 fg%, 2.3 apg (huuge for him), 3.6 rpg, 5 free throw attempts per game, 40% from 3, and 55% ts%. That is awesome, and compares favorably with Rip Hamilton's career line - Rook covered his progress here, and as I wrote earlier this week, we may have a rich man's Rip Hamilton.
Rashard Lewis 14.7 15 -0.3 He seems to have finally adjusted to playing on this team, and has done a great job rotating roles. I wanted to put him in for his 3 game stretch spanning the Suns, Celtics, and Knicks games, but this is a weekly review and his performance this week was slightly below his preceding production, so he doesn't get in.
John Wall 15.3 15.5 -0.2 The shooting is an issue. 18-50 from the field this week is 36%, but more concerning is his overall unwillingness to shoot jumpers and the slow release he showed on this play. He has to take open looks and is clearly over-thinking the shooting issue. Russell Westbrook also took him to school, but on the bright side, he has looked more willing to finish at the rim these past few games. Also, a 40:13 assist:turnover ratio these past 4 games (3.1:1).
Al Thornton 12 11.9 0.1 A nice efficient week for Al, who appears to be transitioning well to his reduced playing time. 14-24 from the field this week is indicative of him not taking a ton of horrible shots. His general need to hog the ball and take bad shots has not been an issue when he plays with guys not looking to score.
Yi Jianlian 11.1 9.8 1.3 He barely touched the floor against the Knicks, but bounced back with a couple solid efforts against the Nuggets and Thunder before a nondescript one against the Grizzlies. Overall though, we should be pleased with his work this week, and the the bump in his PER reflects that notion.
Kirk Hinrich 13.4 13.4 0 He only played in 1 game this week, and it was not a great game. Even worse is that he was not suffering from the fatigue of playing in a double-OT game the night before. Not much to judge here, so he gets a Guest Pass.

 

Locked Out

Player Week 14 PER Week 13 PER Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 17.7 17.5 0.2 He only played in only 2 games, and the good is that his performance was solid both times, which is behind the slight bump in his PER. The bad is that we didn't really miss a beat without him and Booker looked great taking his minutes, which is why he is getting locked out again. I am sure Flip will be even quicker giving him the hook and playing a Blatche, Lewis, Booker front line. I swear I have nothing against him despite the back-to-back lockouts.
Kevin Seraphin 7.7 9.4 -1.7 From the penthouse to the basement! It was a tough week: 3 fouls in 15 minutes against the Knicks, a -11 against the Nuggets, and then slightly reduced minutes in the 2 games without JaVale. He didn't do anything overly bad and expectations are low, but the overall indictment on his minutes is enough to lock him out during this winless week.
Andray Blatche 14.4 14 0.4 The Nuggets game was good, but the other 3 efforts were bad...really bad. In the words of Flip, "He was terrible. He was bad." Foul trouble really took him out of the OKC game, he was a -16 against Memphis, and calling into 106.7 The Fan to defend himself. Yeah, this was a long time coming.

 

NOTE: Hilton Armstrong and Cartier Martin were left off this week's Keys to the Palace because they did not receive enough playing time for a fair evaluation

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