For the second straight game at the 2012 Olympics, Kevin Seraphin was impressive for France in limited court time. He scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots, and he also had the key sequence to seal France's seven-point win over a formidable Argentina squad yesterday.
There's only one problem: the whole "limited court time" thing.
Seraphin did all this while playing just 14 minutes, one game after playing just eight minutes against Team USA. When he plays, he's really productive, but he's not on the court enough. It's easy to criticize France coach Vincent Collet for his lack of trust in Seraphin, and to a certain extent, those criticisms are valid.
But the real problem is that Seraphin is picking up fouls at an absurd rate thus far. He had four in 14 minutes on Tuesday, which was a performance that was somehow nearly twice as disciplined as the one he had against Team USA (four in eight minutes). While I do think Collet needs to do a better job of getting Seraphin on the court more, I can't blame him for being reluctant to trust someone who hurts his team so frequently with bad fouls.
So, is this a problem that could carry over into the NBA season?
To be fair to Seraphin, there are plenty of mitigating factors at play. FIBA games are called very differently than NBA games, and referees are generally much more inconsistent with their whistle, if you can believe it. We're also talking about a tiny sample size that may not be statistically relevant.
Still, it's enough to at least cause me to raise my eyebrows, if only because this is an area in which Seraphin made significant strides last year. As a rookie, Seraphin was a fouling magnet, averaging more than seven infractions per 36 minutes. I don't care how good the rest of your per-36 numbers are if you're fouling that frequently, because you'll never stay on the floor to make that production count. Last year, though, Seraphin shaved his average down to just over four fouls per 36 minutes, a huge reduction when one considers his increased responsibility and court time.
Given that improvement, the last thing the Wizards want is any sort of reversion. That's why it was concerning to see Seraphin commit some bad fouls against Argentina. On his first defensive possession, he held Manu Ginobili on a pick and roll to save himself from being out of position trying to stop Ginobili from getting to his left hand. His second foul came on the very next sequence when he grabbed Andres Nocioni with both hands as he tried to set a screen. His third foul was an iffy call trying to fight for position with Luis Scola in the third quarter, but he also got away with shoving his elbows out while setting a screen less than a minute before that. Those are plays that illustrate poor judgment, and Seraphin needs to make sure he cuts those out.
Last year, he did cut those out in the NBA, and it led to tremendous growth. The only way he takes another step forward is if he permanently removes them. While it's far too early to be too concerned, it is something worth watching as Seraphin tries to maintain the momentum he gained at the end of last season.