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Keys To The Palace: Where The Wizards Aren't Mature Enough To Win On The Road

It's hard to put a positive spin on an 0-18 record on the road, but if you're trying to find a way to avoid thinking about the team's road woes, focus on their success at home. Right now, they've got a winning record at the Verizon Center, and most of their losses have been narrow losses to some good teams, including Miami, Orlando, Chicago and New York. Their home record is better than eleven other teams in the NBA, including Phoenix, Indiana and Milwaukee. If nothing else, the Wizards' solid home record is a sign the team has some talent that can succeed in the right environment.

But if the team's success at home is a sign of the team's talent, the team's road struggles show the team's dire need for maturity. Learning how to overcome obstacles without help is a big part of growing up, and right now, the Wizards still haven't matured enough to learn how to win without crowd support. The Wizards are at the stage where they're riding really, really well with training wheels. They've got a good feel for how the bike operates and they know how to get that thing to move really, really fast. But no matter how fast they gets that bike to move, they're never going to get to the Tour de France on training wheels.

Winning on the road is just one of the many obstacles on the Wizards' road to maturity, but until they clear this hurdle, they won't be able to move on to the bigger challenges that lie ahead of them. After the jump, we'll take a look back at each player's week and identify who is trying to help push the Wizards in the right direction, and who still needs some extra help.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 11 PER Week 10 PER Difference Comment
Rashard Lewis 15.5 14 1.5 I guess Rashard has just been saving those rebounds and assists he wasn't getting in Orlando for his time in Washington. This week he averaged 10 rebounds a game (he only had one double-digit rebounding game this season coming into tonight) and had nearly four assists per game this week. On a team with plenty of unbalanced players, Lewis' transition from a strict role player in Orlando to a jack of all trades with the Wizards provides a great model for the team's young players to follow.
Nick Young 14.8 15.3 -0.5 Still think Nick Young is freelancing? Against the Sixers, Young went 9-16 from the field. All nine of his made shots were assisted. His defense was even better as he helped keep Evan Turner to two points. The rest of his week wasn't quite as spectacular, but for all of you who were hoping one day that he would learn to be an effective defender and play within the offense, your wishes have been granted. Don't forget that.

Guest Passes

Player Week 11 PER Week 10 PER Difference Comment
Kevin Seraphin 8.7 7.1 1.6 Seraphin's offensive game continues to grow. This week, he 4-6 from the field and grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in his twenty minutes of action. He still has a ways to go when it comes to avoiding foul trouble. He picked up seven fouls in those twenty minutes of action this week.
Al Thornton 11.8 11.2 0.6 Thornton is starting to get more comfortable in the offense again, and it's showing in how he gets to the line. After a tentative start to the week against the Sixers, he got to the line three times against the Nets and took seven shots at the charity stripe against the Bobcats. Now that the team has better depth at small forward, Thornton is going to have to continue to find ways to get to free throw line to carve out a larger role on offense.
Kirk Hinrich 13.7 13.4 0.3 Hinrich said after Saturday's loss at Charlotte that the team was "not very mentally tough." I think he may have tried a little too hard to bring some toughness, taking an uncharacteristically high number of shots against the Sixers and Bobcats. On the whole, he performed well, but he has to learn to resist the temptation to do too much to help the Wizards get over the 
JaVale McGee 18.2 18.6 -0.4 Do you think McGee had a little extra motivation to prove himself against Brook Lopez on Friday? Not only did he outscore, outrebound, and outblock Lopez, but he's now 2-0 against the player he was originally cut for on Team USA this summer. Now if only we could get him to work on the rebounding. Kirk Hinrich only had 3 less rebounds this week than McGee did.
John Wall 16.1 16.5 -0.4 Wall's three-point shot, which many thought would be a major issue, has been better than expected for most of the season. For the season, he's shooting 30.3 percent from deep (eFG% 45.3) which isn't great, but it's encouraging. This week, however, he had his struggles, only going 1-11. He's still racking up crazy assist numbers (34 in 3 games this week) but he needs to keep working on that shot, or those assist opportunities are going to dwindle.
Yi Jianlian 9.3 N/A N/A Yi was a little slow defensively, which is really saying something considering how slow he already is on defense, but he took care of business on the other end of the floor, knocking down open shots in his return to the lineup this week.

Locked Out

Player Week 11 PER Week 10 PER Difference Comment
Andray Blatche 13.2 13.6 -0.4 The good news? Andray was a perfect 10 for 10 at the charity stripe this week. The bad news? He only made 38 percent of 42 field goal attempts this week, continuing a bad trend. This season, 47 players have attempted 450 field goal attempts or more. Tyreke Evans is the only player shooting worse than Blatche.
Trevor Booker 12.8 12.8 0 It's hard to get in a rhythm when you only get 13 minutes spread out over 3 games, but Booker has to find a way to make a bigger impact even in small doses. One rebound in 13 minutes won't cut it.

NOTE: Josh Howard, Cartier Martin and Hilton Armstrong were left off this week's Keys to the Palace because they did not receive enough playing time this week for a fair evaluation.