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Keys To The Palace: Where The Wizards Show Their Worth Without John Wall

It's always disheartening to see a top pick miss games due to injury. Especially when you consider this franchise's history with the injury bug, even the most routine, day-to-day tweaks are cause for legitimate concern.

It's easy to let doom and gloom fill your thoughts whenever you hear the word "crutches" but when you look at the glass half-full, there is a bright spot to Wall's bum foot. This week, for the first time since Wall was taken with the top overall pick, we got an extended look at how the rest of the Wizards have improved outside of Wall's influence.

After the jump, we'll take a look at whose performances stood out in a Wall-free week, and who needs to step their game up, regardless of who is playing at point guard.

Keys To The Palace

Player Week 4 PER Week 3 PER Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 18.9 16.3 2.6 It's hard to overstate just how far JaVale McGee has come in the past few weeks. His play over the last few games shows that he's taking Flip Saunders' criticism to heart in deed, if not always in word. Whether you measure it empirically or statistically, it's hard to find a better four game stretch in his career than his performance last week.
Kirk Hinrich 13.9 11.7 2.2 Kirk Hinrich exploited the Grizzlies' backcourt all game long on Friday, en route to his best scoring performance of the season. His shot was off this week, which I think can be mostly attributed to not having John Wall, but he stepped up as a facilitator in his absence, averaging 7.5 assists per game this week. He also made it a point this week to get to the charity stripe, earning 15 free throw attempts this week after only taking 17 free throw attempts all season before this was published. Draw your own conclusions.
Nick Young 15.7 13.9 1.8 If you had Nick Young as one of the two players Flip Saunders would call the team's most consistent, you can collect your Doug Overton throwback jersey at the Bullets Forever pirze desk later this afternoon. The oddest thing about Nick Young has become consistent offensively while relying almost exclusively on long-distance shots and not passing. Flip has eschewed conventional thinking with Young, and reaped the benefits. Rather than trying to force a square peg in a round hole, he's giving him free reign to let if fly on offense (he has 3 assists in 226 minutes of action this season). In return, Flip is getting the defensive effort he wants out of Young and more consistent offensive outings.

Guest Passes

Player Week 4 PER Week 3 PER Difference Comment
Hilton Armstrong 11 7.2 3.8 Hilton Armstrong is shooting 60.7 percent from the field this season, after shooting 35.4 percent last season. He's still not a guy who should be taking more than three shots per game, and he wouldn't crack the rotation on a contender, but he's been a serviceable big man so far this season.
Cartier Martin 14.9 16.8 -1.9 After a few weeks of spotty playing time, Martin played in all four games last week. He didn't do much to make a name for himself, other than a couple of three-pointers and a few steals, but he didn't make many mistakes either. He'll have a tougher time getting minutes now with Alonzo Gee back in the fold, but as long as he keeps playing mistake-free ball, he'll get his chances.
Gilbert Arenas 14 12.5 1.5 Arenas showed he can still be the facilitator when he needs to be in his 16 assist performance against Detroit, but when he has to take care of the ball, his outside shot suffers. He took 27 shots from beyond the arc and converted on less than one-third of them.

Locked Out

Player Week 4 PER Week 3 PER Difference Comment
Trevor Booker 9.7 12 -2.3 Getting posterized by your own teammate is always weird, but I'm sure he'll take that as his "Welcome to the NBA" moment over Timofey Mozgov's baptism by fire this weekend.
Al Thornton 11.2 12.5 -1.3 Thornton's play has dropped off a bit since he dealt with that stomach virus earlier in the month. With Alonzo Gee on the way and Josh Howard on the mend, he's going to have to get back to where he was earlier in the season to keep his name in the conversation for minutes at small forward.
Andray Blatche 14.2 13.8 0.4 Sorry Andray. No one gets in the palace with a play like that.
Hamady Ndiaye -6.3 -9.2 2.9 Ndiaye made an appearance in Tuesday's game and responded with a two trillion performance. At least he didn't commit a turnover.
Kevin Seraphin -19.6 N/A -19.6 After nearly a month riding the pine, Kevin Seraphin got his first playing time of the season last week, playing just under 11 minutes against Boston and Toronto. He managed to pull down five rebounds in that limited time, which is certainly encouraging, but also made only one of his seven field goal attempts and had three turnovers, which is much less encouraging.
Lester Hudson -8.7 -18.7 10 I'm a softie for players from mid-major schools, so it pains me to say goodbye to the Tennessee-Martin alum, but he just didn't have enough to crack a very deep guard rotation for the Wizards.


NOTE: Because John Wall, Yi Jianlian and Josh Howard did not receive playing time this week, they were not included in this week's rankings.