Keys to The Palace: Looking at the First Four Games of the Randy Wittman Era

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Trevor Booker #35 of the Washington Wizards reacts after being called for a foul during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Verizon Center on January 30, 2012 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
'No I don't have a dog house, I have a Palace of Good Play.' I'm looking for someone who's playing well so I can put them in that palace."
-Ed Tapscott

Today marks the return of our semi-regular feature, Keys to the Palace. In case anyone new to the blog finds themselves pondering why this feature was bequeathed its name, it comes from the above statement made by dearly departed Wizards interim coach Ed Tappscott, when asked why Nick Young wasn't getting more PT:

We have played around with this feature for a bit, using different metrics to judge whether a player gets a "key to the palace" or whether that player is "locked out." In honor of new head coach Randy Wittman, we are starting with a fresh slate for every player and only judging them based on the four games under his regime.

Note that players are graded on a sliding scale as regards their importance to the team. Thus, it easier for Shelvin Mack or Kevin Seraphin to get into the Palace bases on their roles on the team, while it is harder for John Wall or JaVale McGee. Heavy is the the head that wears the crown.

Goldkey2_medium Each week, we'll be handing out golden keys to the players who have earned them the right to stay in the Palace of Good Play.

Redlock2_medium Likewise, those who do not play well enough to enter the Palace of Good Play will receiver their own logo. Their scarlet letter will come in the form of the Red Lock of Shame.

After the jump, we'll take a look at each player on the roster to see who gets to stay in the Palace, and who will be forced to sleep in the cold.




I'm not sure sure what to say about Blatche's play at this point. My initial thought was that moving Jan Vesely into the starting role was an attempt to light a fire under the mercurial forward. Instead, his confidence appeared to further erode, which was not helped in the least by the merciless blockfest that Tyrus Thomas laid upon him. His week ended with his left calf causing him to miss 3-5 weeks.

Final Verdict

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Trevor must have run over someone's cat, because that is the only explanation I have as to why he has't received consistent playing time. However, with Vesely and Chris Singleton ahead of him on the playing chart, it appears that it is going to be feast or famine for the second-year player. He also seems to be picking up quite a few technicals as of late, which isn't a trend that is going to ingratiate him with Wittman. However, two strong performances against the Bobcats and Bulls got him through the gates before the portcullis closed.

Final Verdict

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CRANG! CRAAAAAAAAANG! (Heat check) CRAAAANG! If only Crawford would improve his shot selection, he could easily be through the Palace gates. When he chooses to distribute, he demonstrates a deft passing touch, and offensively he has proven himself much more effective as a slasher rather than the long-range bomber that he envisions himself to be. Until Jordan realizes that he is not Gilbert Arenas reincarnate he remains....

Final Verdict

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This signing continues to baffle me. Mo obviously isn't going to get much playing time with Vesely, Singleton et al in front of him, so why not get JaVale McGee a practice dummy? Mo was once again a no-show this week, which robbed us of the opportunity to shout "NO MO, NO!" after hoisting another long range shot attempt.

Final Verdict

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I'm not sure what to make of Lewis' play as of late. The second Bobcats game saw the return Lewis' shooting ability, which now returns every Groundhog's Day. Like the Groundhog, if Lewis misses his first shot, it will be a cold bleak winter for the rest of the game. However, if that first shot whistles through the net, we are blessed with a game full of summer. Those blissful days are few and far between

Final Verdict

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Mack has carved out a nice little niche for himself as the backup PG and executes that role to the best of his abilities. His issues (much like Wall) lie more the fact that he often doesn't have the offensive facilitators with him out on the floor in order for him to be able to excel.

Final Verdict

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See Evans, Mo.

Final Verdict

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Whither JaVale McGee? I can't possibly lock him out, because he has made strides to improve all facets of his game this season. His production on the offensive end has arguably become more efficient, he is still effects shots on the defensive end and appears to be working harder to stay down and play man to man defense rather than ball hawk.

The problem is that the things that McGee has been unable to approve upon are integral to the Wizards improving in the near future. He is still terrible on the pick and roll and makes at least two questionable decisions a game that leaves a coach with no decision but to bench him. And sometimes, he just doesn't show up. The Rockets game was McGee at his worse, as he disappeared against a much more aggressive Samuel Dalembert and appeared to be disinterested in the proceedings.

JaVale gets into the Palace this week, but the weaknesses bear scrutiny in this contract season.

Final Verdict

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Hamady Ndiaye

#55 / Center / Washington Wizards

DNP


Not with the team for the first three games and a DNP after being recalled which means that he is.....

Final Verdict

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Seraphin had six teeth pulled prior to the Rockets game, and then game came back to play a smattering of minutes against the Bobcats with a bit more burn during the Bulls game. In his second year, I'm not what to think of Seraphin as of yet. He does some things that the other Wizards bigs appear either unable or unwilling to do, such as set picks and be physical in the interior, yet his lack of vertical and lateral quickness often leaves him looking like a bystander in the activities. I feel terrible for a guy who had major oral surgery but he is...

Final Verdict

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Singleton has basically disappeared after his productive first few weeks. Opponents are prepared for his reaching, and he has not yet learned how to adapt his game to the NBA. However, the new Wizards tempo seems to benefit Singleton's style, so one might hope to see improvement in the next few weeks.

Final Verdict

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Ronny Turiaf

#21 / Center / Washington Wizards

DNP


Hurry back Ronny...

Final Verdict

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Do you judge Vesely on his limited statline, or the intangibles with how he effects the game? I believe that in his first evaluation, you have to judge the latter. You can't put put enough weight on sharing the ball, touch passes, and the willingness to be active on the defensive end of the court. The offense remains a questions mark, but for now Jan can bed down on silk sheets.

Final Verdict

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I'm think we are all feeling a bit silly for thinking he was no better than D.J Augustin. Now, he just needs to prove himself to be better than Ricky Rubio.

Final Verdict

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If you regress offensively, is it your fault, or the fault that you are the only person on your team who can score? Young has taken a step back this year, working a lot more of the 1 on 1 play which used to get him benched into his game along with the usual prolific shooting. His shot selection has also become more questionable as well, as he and Jordan Crawford seem to have a nightly contest to see who can shoot the most contested jumpers. The difference, however, is that Young makes a majority of his in comparison. Someone has to score, so for that reason Young earns..

Final Verdict

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