Keys to the Palace: Starters picking out wallpaper

Rob Carr

The Washington Wizards starters have been recurring guests at the Palace of Good Play this year. Meanwhile, the team's reserves have been locked out so long, perhaps they've begun to hibernate?

The Washington Wizards have played six games since we last handed out Keys to the Palace, and the team is 4-2 during that stretch, but it doesn't feel like it, does it? Dispiriting home losses to the NBA's then-worst team can have that effect.

Still, the Wizards picked up solid wins against the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic, eeked out a road win against the Milwaukee Bucks, and lost in embarrassing fashion to the Indiana Pacers (somewhat defensible as it was one the road and without Nene) and at home to those same Bucks (completely indefensible).

The team spent a couple days at .500 (for the first time since November 2009) before rejoining the losing ranks with the Bucks loss. Tonight, it faces the Denver Nuggets at home, a winnable game made demonstrably tougher should both Nene and Martell Webster be unable to play.

Again, for those who need some background, the Palace of Good Play derives from this legendary Ed Tapscott quote on Nick Young and his lack of playing time:

"Someone asked me the other day if I have a dog house. I said, '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."

So how does this work?

Goldkey2_medium Each week we'll be handing out Gold Keys to those Wizards whose good play has earned them a rightful spot in the Palace of Good Play. Simple enough, right?

Redlock2_medium On the flip side, those whose play does not earn them a spot in the Palace will instead be locked out of said Palace via our Red Lock of Shame. Following me?

Guestpass_medium Just to make things more confusing, Wizards who we deem worthy of admittance to the Palace but don't trust enough with one of our golden keys will instead receive the Blue Guest Pass of Indifference.

Here's a quick test to make it easier: Have a friend read down the Wizards' roster. If your reaction to a player's name is, "Wooo," that player should get a Goldkey2_medium . If you instead think "Booo," then they'd get a Redlock2_medium. If the first thing that comes to mind is "meh," then that player probably deserves a Guestpass_medium.

It's been a cold couple days in Washington. Everyone could use a little shelter, but those admitted to the Palace of Good Play must earn their keep.

***


John Wall

#2 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 31 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 37 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 19 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds 39 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 8 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 35 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 26 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 39 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 16 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 29 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 30 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 48 minutes

I mean, what can you say? Other than a stinker against the Pacers, Wall has played at an elite level. He was the only reason the Wizards were in a position to force overtime against the Bucks, and was the driving force behind all four of Washington's wins during this stretch. If we awarded a Key to the Royal Chambers, Wall would be its perpetual guest.

Goldkey2_medium


Nene Hilario

#42 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 30 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 37 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 35 minutes
  • @ Indiana: DNP (coach's decision)
  • vs. Atlanta: 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 36 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 31 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 25 minutes

When Nene plays, he's effective. When he doesn't play, the Wizards are a train wreck. See: Indiana and Milwaukee 2.0. His latest injury woes are undoubtedly frustrating for fans, but Nene hasn't done anything on the court to warrant banishment from the palace.

Goldkey2_medium


Marcin Gortat

#4 / Center / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 35 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 41 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 34 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 41 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 29 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 39 minutes

Gortat has been a steady rock in the post, and the flashes he and Wall show on the occasional oh-so-beautiful pick-and-rolls they do run together has fans and observers alike screaming for more. Washington will struggle to win any games that Nene doesn't play in, but Gortat's presence in the frontcourt at least gives the team hope of treading water until Nene is back.

Goldkey2_medium


Martell Webster

#9 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 20 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 43 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 43 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 37 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 41 points
  • vs. Orlando: 5 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 34 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 8 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 12 minutes

The Wizards haven't missed a beat offensively with Webster subbing into the starting lineup for Bradley Beal, whose two-week shutdown due to a fibular stress injury coincided with the beginning of this six-game stretch. Perhaps nothing demonstrated Webster's importance (or really, that of multiple floor-stretching shooters) to this team than when he went down at the end of the first half of the second Bucks game with a sprained ankle, and Washington's offense subsequently fell apart. Get well soon, Martell.

Goldkey2_medium


Trevor Ariza

#1 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 32 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 14 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 42 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 34 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 24 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 38 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 31 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 22 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 46 minutes

Outside of Wall, Ariza has been Washington's best player during this stretch and Wall's most consistent offensive outlet. There isn't really much else to be said, other than that Ariza has been spectacular as of late, and really all season. Of course, this presents the Wizards with a quandary, as Ariza's play makes him both vital to the team's playoff aspirations, and a valuable trade chip in the final season of his current contract. What to do?

Goldkey2_medium


Chris Singleton

#31 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 minute
  • @ Milwaukee: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Indiana: 3 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 8 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 17 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 11 points, 6 rebounds, 0 assists, 24 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 33 minutes

It didn't take Singleton long to assert himself as one of Randy Wittman's first options off the bench, but the results have been mixed, at best. Singleton has rebounded well, which is encouraging, but even in scoring 11 points against the Magic, he worked in some ill-advised jumpers that threatened to take the offense out of its flow. And then, of course, there was the 1-for-10 stinker he put up against the Bucks (including a brick on a wide-open, potential game-winning three at the end of regulation). Mixed bags don't win you entry to the palace.

Redlock2_medium


Jan Vesely

#24 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 2 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 18 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 23 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 0 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 20 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 4 points, 1 reboumd, 0 assists, 15 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 2 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 19 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 16 minutes

Last week we gave Vesely a Guest Pass of Indifference, with the passive aggressive edict, "Consider yourself lucky." Well, Vesely didn't treasure his guest pass, and after turning in a couple Janian performances against the Lakers and Bucks, he turned back into a total waste of space. He even got the start for Nene against the Pacers, but David West abused him so thoroughly that Airwolf might still be in recovery. Maybe the wintry cold will help snap him out of his current malaise.

Redlock2_medium


Eric Maynor

#6 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 3 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 11 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 3 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 14 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 8 points, 1 assist, 0 rebounds, 9 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 4 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 9 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 2 points, 3 assists, 0 rebounds, 19 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 3 points, 1 assist, 0 rebounds, 4 minutes

Jumpin' Jehosaphat, what to do about this? Maynor didn't look so awful against the Lakers and in Milwaukee, but those games were exceptions to the rule, the rule being that Maynor has looked awful. How awful? Maynor didn't have a single positive plus/minus performance during this stretch, not even in Washington's blowout win over the Magic.

Redlock2_medium


Garrett Temple

#17 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: 2 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 26 minutes
  • @ Milwaukee: 6 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 22 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 2 points, 0 assists, 2 rebounds, 22 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 1 minute
  • vs. Orlando: 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 2 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 0 points, 1 assist, 0 rebounds, 1 minute

Take a look at Temple's stat line the first three games, and it's easy to understand why he got four total minutes over the next three contests. *Retch*

Redlock2_medium


Trevor Booker

#35 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Milwaukee: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Indiana: 4 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 25 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: DNP (coach's decision)
  • vs. Orlando: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 14 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 26 minutes

See, this is what Booker does to you. In limited minutues, he tantalizes with energy, rebounding binges and breathless athleticism, to the point that he eventually earns a few opportunities to start, only to completely wither against stiffer competition, earning himself another stay in the doghouse, rinse, repeat, etc. But right now, he's in the middle of one of his productive spells.

Goldkey2_medium


Otto Porter

#22 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: Inactive (injury)
  • @ Milwaukee: Inactive (injury)
  • @ Indiana: Inactive (injury)
  • vs. Atlanta: Inactive (injury)
  • vs. Orlando: Inactive (injury)
  • vs. Milwaukee: 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 14 minutes

Porter had a rookie debut to forget, but we were just so darned excited to finally see him on the court, we want to let him inside. However, we've locked out Glen Rice Jr. all season under the reasoning that the rookie had yet to earn his keep. We must be fair and apply the same standard to Porter.

Redlock2_medium


Kevin Seraphin

#13 / Center / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Milwaukee: 2 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 7 minutes
  • @ Indiana: 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 12 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: 2 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 minutes
  • vs. Orlando: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: Inactive (#SeraphinLife)

Other than that nine-point effort against the Pacers, this is par for the course. Having a decent game against Indian when no one else did, and being listed as inactive against Milwaukee, when Seraphin likely would have had a chance to play meaningful minutes with Nene leaving mid-game, is the living definition of #SeraphinLife.

Redlock2_medium


Glen Rice Jr.

#14 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. L.A. Lakers: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Milwaukee: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Indiana: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 minutes
  • vs. Atlanta: DNP (coach's decision)
  • vs. Orlando: 5 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 5 minutes
  • vs. Milwaukee: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 minutes

Let's see, five points and a rebound in only nine minutes despite Beal's injury? #freeGRJR lives on another week.

Redlock2_medium

Because they missed this entire six-game stretch with injuries, we're going to skip Beal and Al Harrington this week. Beal is set to be re-evaluated this week, while Harrington suffered a setback to his his right knee injury over the weekend.

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