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Keys to the Palace: A Glimmer of Hope

Awesome Photo
Awesome Photo
'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."
-Ed Tapscott

We all expected the Wizards to be bad this season (so maybe we Editors were all waaay off). Despite being prepared for the worst, the team's recent play has left me with some angry feelings. As John Wall stated, there has been a lack of effort. I understand that we are young and short on talent, but a lack of effort is not something I can tolerate as a fan.The team's energy coupled with a lack of progress by certain players is particularly difficult to swallow.

Then came the Minnesota Timberwolves.

They are one of the 3 teams with a worse record, but that win feels a little cathartic. Instead of going with the status quo and playing the guys who should be entitled to crunch time minutes, Flip put out a hungrier group. The result speaks for itself. On a night when the players should have been fired up to support Flip after the passing of his mother, this is the type of result we needed. This is progress.

This team should not have any games they NEED to win (save for the game in Cleveland to break our road losing streak), but the game against the T'Wolves was a biggy. More importantly, maybe, just maybe, the vicious tide of malaise that was drowning this team has been slowed by a gritty performance. Things are changing.

Keys to the Palace

Player Week 19 PER Week 18 PER Difference Comment
Andray Blatche 15.3 14.9 0.4 This was pretty close to a no-brainer. The game against the Bulls wasn't amazing, but the other 3 performances were very good and what we have been wanting to see for a long time. In addition to the numbers, consider that Booker and he were the best Wizards in the 1 win this week, he was basically the only Wizard with a positive +/- (+5) against the Pistons, and has been looking to pass a lot more for the benefit of the team.
Trevor Booker 14.5 14 0.5 So what he didn't have a great night against the Pistons? He was a driving force behind the 1 victory this week, and more importantly appears to be a driving force in the Wizards boosting their overall effort. To use the word's of's Bill Simmons, 'he gives a crap.' There is no question he needs to get increased minutes through the end of the season.


Guest Passes

Player   Week 18 PER Difference Comment
John Wall 15.3 15.5 -0.2 There was some good and some bad. The Bulls game was awful, the Warriors game okay, but the last 2 games were good enough to get him a guest pass. 13 free throws against the Pistons is very encouraging.
Maurice Evans 8.5 9.2 -0.7 On paper, he would have been locked out, but his intangibles are what I was hoping for. He provides grit, energy, and defense for a team short on all 3 qualities. His efforts earned him the crunch time minutes against the T'Wolves, and that performance helped push him into the starting lineup. If I had any sense that he could hang on to the starting spot, I would have given him a full Key.
Nick Young 15.4 15.4 0 He was solid against the Pistons and great against the Warriors, which is enough to get a Guest Pass. The fact that the team played their best ball this week without him is not a concern. However, his heinous cornrows are a concern.


Locked Out

Player   Week 18 PER Difference Comment
Josh Howard 9.9 8.9 1 He had an okay week, and just missed the cut for a Guest Pass, but I don't like injuries, so those were the proverbial nail in the coffin. Despite Booker forcing his way into a bigger role, Rashard's knee issues should keep minutes open for JoHo.
Kevin Seraphin 8.9 9.4 -0.5 This was a very 'meh' week for Seraphin. The bad is that he continues to foul at some crazy rate and look like a klutz. The good is that he has shown a little bit of an offensive post game. I know this may sound contradictory, but he has managed to be both clumsy and graceful. Such is the life of an extremely raw player. Make no mistake though, the clumsiness can be fixed, and the potential for any offensive game is exciting.
Jordan Crawford 4.9 18.2 -13.3 I REALLY want to like him. When he entered the draft, I thought Crawford had a shot to be a good NBA player. My dreams of the Wizards having dug up a real diamond in the rough were shattered though by him shooting 27% this week. I am not giving up on him, and the community had high praise for his performance against Detroit, but I have had trouble seeing the same potential I once saw.
Cartier Martin 12.3 12.5 -0.2 He played all but 2 of his minutes this week against the T'Wolves, and shot 2-for-8 in 27 minutes of action against them. His recent poor play has been the main cause of the drop in his playing time, but the addition of Crawford isn't helping his cause either.
Rashard Lewis 12.8 13.3 -0.5 I know he's hurt, but his performances have gradually gotten worse and worse. Given that this team isn't going anywhere, it would seem that surgery would be the best answer for both him, and the Wizards, as the younger guys could soak up a few more minutes. The bad news is that continued knee trouble makes him a less appealing trade chip next season.
JaVale McGee 16.5 16.7 -0.2 He was once again generally a non-factor and is finally losing his entitlement to big minutes. The energetic lineup that propelled the team over Minnesota is the big story this week, and the reason that lineup is a story is because McGee was not in it.
Mustafa Shakur 10.6 17.3 -6.7 Ahhh, so that's why he was in the D-League for so long. He still looks confident and competent out there, and maybe with more minutes could prove to be a solid backup PG.

NOTE: Yi Jianlian was left off this week's Keys to the Palace because he did not receive enough playing time for a fair evaluation.

NOTE #2: I only watched the first 2 games this week due to obligations at my 'real job.' I checked the box scores and read recaps, but feel free to let me know if I misjudged anything from the Minnesota and Detroit games. I am also semi-delirious from sleeping about 11 hours in the past 3 days combined.