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Keys To The Palace: Who Needs a Road Win?

Jake has passed this weekly feature off to me due to real work obligations, so be prepared for all hell to break loose. I will do my best to do the feature justice.

On the court, the Wizards have had their best stretch of the season since the last Keys to the Palace. 4-3 with wins over the Jazz and Celtics. Hoo-ah! Amazing that this team can lose at Philly, Charlotte, Indiana, Minnesota, and Milwaukee in the last three weeks, and then suddenly beat two of the NBA's best. Such is the life of a young team.

Four games out of the eighth seed sounds doable, but let's not forget that there are three teams between the Wizards and that eighth seed, and four games over 41 is not an insignificant mountain to climb. Let's also not forget that the playoffs mean nothing, this team would be slaughtered in the first round, and should be thinking about the development of certain players and how they impact the 2011-2012 season.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 13 PER Week 12 PER Difference Comment
Nick Young 15.7 14.8 0.9 1-13 against the Celtics isn't keeping who him out of the Palace because this evaluation period also includes the career-best 43 point effort against the Kings. In fact, taking out Saturday night's abomination, Nick shot 52% (!) in the 6 other games. This sounds a little crazy, but at what point do we just expect a high level of performance?
Kevin Seraphin 9.4 8.7 0.7 His minutes may be limited, but he is already providing a lot of toughness the Wizards lack. I am all for him getting more minutes, even if that means sitting JaVale. His PER did go up, but a lot of what he provides is not in the box score, and I thought he performed particularly well against the Celts.
Mustafa Shakur 39.1 N/A N/A 39.1! That's right, Mustafa is in! He basically got right off the plane, gets some joke of a jersey, and provides a spark and extremely efficient minutes in what will likely be the team's best win this season. You can give credit to a lot of people for beating the Celts, but what he did, against Rajon Rondo no less, was shockingly good. Maybe he should keep that jersey after all.....

Guest Passes

Player Week 13 PER Week 12 PER Difference Comment
Andray Blatche 14 13.2 0.8 A PER increase is not getting you completely out of my doghouse. That pathetic effort against the Suns and being the one most responsible for Channing Frye going berserk sticks in my mind. In addition to defensive effort, he really needs to start finishing stronger at the rim and taking contact.
John Wall 15.5 16.1 -0.6 The scoring hasn't been there, but the assists have. It looks like the shooting issues are affecting the way he plays too, as he is passing up shots (notably in the Suns game) and playing much less aggressively than he did at the start of the season. I know we all want him to avoid injuries by playing smarter, but I still want him taking it strong to the hoop and shooting first.
Rashard Lewis 15 15.5 -0.5 I would have locked him out, but the solid performance against Boston earns a Guest Pass, even though I was terrified every time Paul Pierce squared up against him. Rashard is also starting to look much more comfortable on the offensive end.
Al Thornton 11.9 11.8 0.1 With the emergence of Young Sushi (aka Nick Young) as a scorer, it is hard to see exactly what Thornton's role should be on this team. I could see him as a scorer for the second unit, but if at least two of Blatche, Wall, and Sushi are on the floor, Thornton becomes pretty useless. I think more of his minutes should go to Booker, and not just for development's sake.
Yi Jianlian 9.8 9.3 0.5 I like the idea of him stretching the defense, opening lanes for Jimmy and providing a different look than any of our other big men on offense, but his defense is a concern. Good to have him back on the floor though.
Kirk Hinrich 13.4 13.7 -0.3 A steady stretch for Dribbles, but the elbow injury is a concern. He said he heard something pop, and Jimmy hasn't exactly been healthy, so we were forced to have Mustafa Shakur (aka MVP) come right in off the street (aka the D-League). Assuming Mustafa reverts back to some human level of performance, we could have some serious PG issues. We all think his veteran presence is good for Jimmy, but we may soon realize just how valuable his on-court presence is for The Future.

Locked Out

Player Week 13 PER Week 12 PER Difference Comment
JaVale McGee 17.5 18.2 -0.7 Bad stretch for JaVale, who has drifted too far into 'substance over style.' His performance against the Celtics was nice, and his literal effort on the shot he altered and then went back up to rebound was a marvel of athleticism and desire. I still think he could become a core piece for this franchise, but he really does need to get benched more regularly for bonehead plays.


NOTE: Hilton Armstrong Cartier Martin, and Trevor Booker were left off this week's Keys to the Palace because they did not receive enough playing time for a fair evaluation. Although I did see Cartier in Clyde's immediately after the Suns game (they are just like us!).