Keys to the Palace: Time for Some Leadership

At 13-37, we are now 2nd to last in the Eastern Conference, and 4th to last in the entire NBA.  I would like to say that this 0-4 week is acceptable because this is a rebuilding team and all 4 losses were against good teams, but frustration is mounting amongst fans and the players. 

With that in mind, the theme for this week's Keys to the Palace is leadership. This team has 2 players over the age of 27, so leadership roles have been thrust upon a lot of young players. As we look to the future, seeing how these players embrace their leadership responsibilities could be very telling for how quickly and successfully the team moves forward.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 15 PER Week 14 PER Difference Comment
Kirk Hinrich 13.6 13.4 0.2 He got hot against the Hornets, and continued his hot shooting against the Hawks. The bad part of the Captain is that he is not a great playmaker, which is about as damning a point one can make about a point guard. The offense completely changes with Wall out of the game, and although Hinrich handles the ball, he is not driving and creating for others. A nice week for him though, and perhaps a nice coincidence that my focus this week is on leadership.
Al Thornton 12 12 0 A 5 minute and a 7 minute game, but he's still in this week. I have been impressed with Thornton's ability to adopt to a new role. This was a black hole on offense, trying to earn a starting job somewhere, who has been relegated to less than 15 mpg on a bad team. Thornton has done a nice job though picking his spots on offense and not displaying any of the frustration I would expect from guy who lost his spot so quickly. He won't be here next year, but I respect the guy for going about his business and tweaking his game on such short notice.


Guest Passes

Player Week 15 PER Week 14 PER Difference Comment
Trevor Booker 13 13.4 -0.4 6 blocks against the Magic got me salivating. The bad is 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 5 fouls in 12 minutes against the Hawks. Looking to the future, I think Book is a long term piece. I am not sure if he is a starter, but if he keeps his intensity level up through his career, it is hard not to see him as someone who will lead by example.
Nick Young 15.2 15.5 -0.3 Shooting 6-20, 7-20, and 7-17 in 3 of the 4 games this week is not good. I also think that the Wall ejection against the Magic is partly Nick's Fault. Sushi was frustrated at not getting a few calls, and that frustration definitely rubs off on your teammates. To date, I have been okay with Nick's easy-going attitude, but for him to be a long-term piece, he needs to understand that his personality and reactions will affect his teammates. I have a hard time seeing him change though.
John Wall 15.1 15.3 -0.2 2 decent games, 1 okay, and 1 awful this week. He has been showing some signs of frustration that seemed to boil over into his ejection against the Magic. As much as I like the fire, I can't help but think some of that anger is from being on a bad team. A possibly symbolic play was the 2-on-1 break he defended against the Magic in which he perfectly played 2 guys at once, forced an awkward lob pass, and then blocked the alley oop dunk..........only to have the loose ball fall to a 3rd Magic player trailing the play for an easy layup. Wall looked incredulous after the play ($50 fine I'm sure), but rightfully so for his unbelievable effort that was not supported by any of his teammates hustling back on defense.
Yi Jianlian 11.2 11.1 0.1 2 games into this week, I had a Key to the Palace with his name on it, then a couple of stinkers and he is back to guest pass territory. The ability to stretch the defense is nice and seemingly a good fit with Wall. Unfortunately, he is just so slow on defense, I can't see him guarding any PFs with major minutes. I think he should play more center and see how he stands up to the league's biggest men.

 

Locked Out

Player Week 15 PER Week 14 PER Difference Comment
Andray Blatche 14.6 14.4 0.2 The effort and performance by my eyeballs was about the same as usual, but the numbers were much better this week than in the past few. I really shouldn't have to say much about his leadership. I know at least Nick gets along with him, but he will never lead by example and I only think a superb leader will bring out the best in him. Dray will be incredibly high maintenance if that is the case, which is one more reason that he should not be in the team's long term plans.
Rashard Lewis 14.4 14.7 -0.3 I have praised him for adapting to a new team with a variety of roles, but he is a veteran making big money who needs to really step it up at this point. There was nothing particularly bad he did this week, but he is being locked out because of an absence of 'good.' It is important to note that he is the oldest player on the roster. We just need more out of Rashard.
JaVale McGee 17.1 17.7 -0.6 20.2, 19.3, 18.5, 18.0, 18.6, 18.2, 17.5, and 17.1. Those are JaVale's PERs in order starting in week 6. As you can see, there is a concerning pattern......His minutes are down, and his benchings are up. When the highlight of your week is outplaying Zaza Pachulia, you know things are not going well. Dwight Howard predictably destroyed him, but the Mavs and Hornets games were not good efforts. Part of the reason he keeps getting locked out is that we expect more from him, and in many ways NEED more from him for this team to be successful in the future.

 

NOTE: Hilton Armstrong, Cartier Martin, Mustafa Shakur, and Kevin Seraphin 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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