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Keys To The Palace: Where The Defense Forgot To Return After Thanksgiving

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How bad was the Wizards defense this week? Even in their best outing against Portland, they still managed to give up 23 offensive rebounds, tied for the fourth best offensive rebounding performance by a team this season. The Blazers snagged 42.7 percent of the available rebounds on the offensive glass. Try not to wrap your head around that number too much, it just might make your head explode.

When a team struggles to hold teams under 120 points, it makes for a looooong week at the office. As a result, lots of players are being locked out until they can lock down.

Keys To The Palace

Player Week 6 PER Week 5 PER Difference Comment
Trevor Booker 11.1 8.4 2.7 Booker had the best week of his young career. He got some extended burn in garbage time against Toronto and scored a career high 9 points against the Suns on Sunday. He's starting to get more comfortable in his role in the offense and it's showing on the highlight reels
Cartier Martin 14.5 14.2 0.3 Martin only played two minutes against the Suns, which gave him ample time to observe the player he should be seeking to emulate: Jared Dudley. If he can continue to refine that three point shot and continue adding value on the defensive end, he can carve out a solid role for himself coming off the bench, despite not having much of a game off the dribble, just like Dudley has in Phoenix. He maintained a positive plus/minus in three of the four games this week and made three of his six three point attempts.
Alonzo Gee 11.6 15.1 -3.5 Gee hasn't been quite as electric as he was during his first stint as a Wizard, but he's brought some reliability at small forward while Al Thornton has dealt with injuries. He has connected on half of his field goat attempts, he's getting to the line and he's pulling in 6.5 rebonds per 36 minutes so far this season. Not bad for a swingman who wasn't on the opening roster.

Guest Passes

Player Week 6 PER Week 5 PER Difference Comment
Gilbert Arenas 14.5 15.3 -0.8 Arenas struggled in Wall's first game back, which some people have interpreted as the two not playing well together, but I think it's more of an issue of how Arenas' role varies depending on Wall's presence. He tried to find a happy balance against Toronto, a team he had a superb outing against earlier in the year, but just wasn't able recreate the magic this week. On the bright side, his production should go up now, knowing that he's no longer Washington D.C.'s highest paid athlete.
Yi Jianlian 10.5 10.3 0.2 Yi didn't do much in his first game back after missing nearly a month due to injury, but played much better against the Suns. He had his moments while holding down the center spot, but when he's holding down the pivot, posterizings like this are bound to happen
Nick Young 17.2 17.7 -0.5 I suppose it was inevitable after I praised Nick Young's hot streak and Mike asked if his production was sustainable that Nick Young would proceed to miss 15 of his next 21 shots. He came back strong against Phoenix after missing Friday's game against Portland with a thigh injury, but it's hard to shoot your way to a key when you shoot yourself into a big hole early in the week.
Kirk Hinrich 12.3 12.9 -0.6 Other than his little giggle-fest near the end of the Raptors game, it was a quiet week for Hinrich at the office. His production was steady this week, though his plus/minus numbers were more or less in lock step with the rest of the team. 

Locked Out

Player Week 6 PER Week 5 PER Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 20.2 19.5 0.7 This week, the Wizards allowed their opponents to make 60 shots at the rim this week. While JaVale doesn't deserve all the blame for the Wizards' inability to keep opponents from getting to the rim, he certainly deserves a sizeable share of the blame. Part of his struggles are related to his sore back, but the Suns showed how far he still has to go on improving his pick and roll defense as well.
Al Thornton 10.5 10.8 -0.3 Al Thornton also returned from injury this week, but he's clearly still not back to 100 percent after injuring his ankle against the Sixers. Thornton relies on his athleticism to punish the opposing team on both ends of the court. When he's not at 100 percent, the drop off is rather glaring. He only played 34 minutes in three games this week, getting to the foul line once and only pulling down five rebounds.
John Wall 17.1 18.8 -1.7 Like Thornton, John Wall made his return from injury this week, but also wasn't quite back 100 percent. He only made 12 of his 36 field goal attempts and committed 10 turnovers this week. Although the Palace won't be open for Wall this week, the bank is open for business
Kevin Seraphin 2.6 3 -0.4 Seraphin hasn't found a spot in Flip Saunder's regular rotation per se, but as long as the Wizards keep getting blown out of at least one game per week, he'll continue to get playing time. It's hard to take too much from performances in garbage time, but one thing is clear: Frenchy likes to foul. He's averaging a foul every 3.6 minutes, which means he would foul out twice with a foul to spare if he played a full 48 minutes.
Andray Blatche 14.6 13.9 0.7 Bullet Nation In Exile summed up Blatche's week, as well as the rest of the season, quite well in his Suns recap: "The good news: Dray still has enough ability and upside to fire a pound of bacon into orbit. The bad news: he appears to have eaten it. The worse news: the bacon outrebounded him."
Hilton Armstrong 10.4 10.2 0.2 Armstrong came through with a solid effort against the Blazers, scoring 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench. But he also posted negative plus/minus numbers in his other two outings, accidentally started a fight and deserves his share of the blame for Wizards' defensive woes this week.

NOTE: Josh Howard and Hamady Ndiaye were not included in this week's Keys To The Palace because they did not receive playing time.