Keys To The Palace : JaVale McGee Enters In Style, Nick Young Exits in Shame

Feb. 20, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard (13) Steve Nash takes a shot in the second half against the Washington Wizards at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Wizards 104-88. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
'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

A 2-3 roadtrip can inspire a variety of feelings. An optimist would point to the fact that the Wizards are well ahead of last season's win total on the road. That same optimist could point to the development of the team over the past week and how they are incrementally closer to competing on a nightly basis than they were earlier in the season. Individually, the optimist has to be pleased with the growth of players such as JaVale McGee and John Wall. Further the optimist would point to the fact that the weaknesses of the team are issues that will be addressed in the offseason.

The pessimist would point out that despite the strong start against a terrible Detroit team and a scuffling Portland team, the Wizards were blown out in the following three games because they were unable to adjust to either the playing style or tempo of their opponents. Further, that same pessimist would point to the fact that the WIzards were essentially playing four on five all week , with the small forward position being a blackhole of the craptacular. That same pessimist would point out how the Wizards drafted two small forwards last offseason and that further investment in the position would be foolhardy with the need for a shooting and possibly a center.

I fall strongly between the two positions. McGee's play since the new medication has forced me to re-evaluate his possible ceiling as a player, and the continued strong night in/night out play of Wall and Trevor Booker at least give the Wizards a basement floor to build upon. However, the list of needs for the Wizards heading into the offseason is currently staggering. As Mike joked on Twitter, the Wizards need "a shooter, another shooter, a big man, a veteran backup point guard, another shooter, and a high usage/moderately efficient wing," My laundry list is not as long as Mike's, but going forward, one has to question which assets on this team are fungible to acquire the pieces needed to move the team forward.

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.




Back after the All-Star break, but how healthy will he be and what role will he expect to play in the offense? Fits the need for another big off the bench, but I think it is time to cut the cord with Andray.

Final Verdict

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Booker has another solid week, though his lack of size made it easier for players like Blake Griffin or Marcin Gortat/Channing Frye to simply shoot over him rather than allow Booker to body them up. Booker, however, is one of the few players to bring a solid effort consistently each and every night, which combined with his improvement also makes him one of the Wizards' most valuable trade assets.

Final Verdict

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Crawford has solid games against both Portland and Phoenix, but I'm still not seeing much growth as a playmaker and with his efficiency. For every nice pass that Crawford makes to Kevin Seraphin or Rashard Lewis in the post, there's an ill-advised three early in the shotclock on the next possession. If the expectation was that Crawford was the Wizards' replacement for Nick Young, I could handle it. However, I surmise that the Wizards acquired him with the expectation that he could be much more valuable than a sparkplug off the bench.

Final Verdict

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Not seen since Portland. His ISO game must have offended Randy Wittman to no end.

Final Verdict

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Lewis' effectiveness continues to be minimal on a night-to-night basis. He still gets to the right spots on the floor and can still move the ball better than most of his colleagues, but his days as a starter are done. His inability to play for long stretches has given the starting role to Chris Singleton by default, which by no means is a good thing.

Final Verdict

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Mack forced the issue off the bench this week, burying any hope of a two-point guard backcourt and earning him his first red lock of shame.

Final Verdict

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What is the reverse of a victory cigar?

Final Verdict

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We are going to look at this in a longer article, but to suffice to say that McGee's play over the road trip was one which for the moment should silence the national media critics. The concern, as always, is whether he will build on that during the current week or regress further.

Final Verdict

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Saw increased minutes against Utah and Phoenix, but one has to question whether Seraphin is playing out of position at center. A frontcourt combination of he and Booker is a liability and he remains the backup for now, but one wonders if his abilities would be put to better use at the power forward position.

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What happened, Chris?

Final Verdict

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Ronny Turiaf

#21 / Center / Washington Wizards

DNP


Back after All-Star break, which is good news for the depleted Wizards bigs.

Final Verdict

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Doing the little things has its advantages, but it also can't translate into becoming a fouling machine that can't remain on the court for 30 seconds without committing some sort of indiscretion. Vesely continues to hustle and provide high effort, but it simply hasn't translated lately to a net positive on the court. The concern is that the continued foul calls will lessen the rookie's effort over time. This leads me to the belief that the Wizards should attempt to run at least two plays for Vesely a game, much like they did with McGee last season, to at least ascertain if they can get anything out of him on the offensive end besides putbacks and dunks.

Final Verdict

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John is getting to the line more regularly than earlier this season, which is a clear demonstration that as his jumpshot improves, so will the calls on his frenetic drives to the basket. His turnovers took slight tick up on the road trip, which while not a concern, still could be improved upon. However, all in all, it was another solid week for Wall while leaving room for improvement in his development.

Final Verdict

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Portland and Detroit or the other three games?

A standout performance or a blip on a continuing trend downward?

I may take heat for this, but this week....

Final Verdict

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