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Keys to the Palace: Starters (again) get spots by the royal fire

The Washington Wizards have gone 3-4 since we last handed out Keys to the Palace, but all three of those wins came last week over a four-game stretch, so it's about to get crowded by the castle hearth.

Rob Carr

We missed Keys last week, which for the Washington Wizards is probably a good thing, since we would have been judging them based on a horrific three-game stretch against the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. Pretty sure everyone would have been locked out last week, and in the midst of a signature D.C. cold front, no less.

This week, though, is a different story. Yes, there was a bad 96-88 road loss to the Toronto Raptors, but the Wiz also beat a good Minnesota Timberwolves team at home 104-100, got revenge against the Cavaliers (dominating for three quarters before almost blowing a 98-91 road win in the fourth), and finished the week by taking care of business against a bad New York Knicks team at Verizon Center, 98-89.

At the end of the day, a 3-1 week is a good week when you root for the Wizards, so it stands to reason that we should be handing out quite a few Gold Keys to the Palace of the Good Play. Lets see if that's the case.

Again, for those who need some background, the Palace of Good Play derives from this legendary Ed Tapscott quote on Nick Young and his lack of playing time:

"Someone asked me the other day if I have a dog house. I said, '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."

So how does this work?

Goldkey2_medium Each week we'll be handing out Gold Keys to those Wizards whose good play has earned them a rightful spot in the Palace of Good Play. Simple enough, right?

Redlock2_medium On the flip side, those whose play does not earn them a spot in the Palace will instead be locked out of said Palace via our Red Lock of Shame. Following me?

Guestpass_medium Just to make things more confusing, Wizards who we deem worthy of admittance to the Palace but don't trust enough with one of our golden keys will instead receive the Blue Guest Pass of Indifference.

Here's a quick test to make it easier: Have a friend read down the Wizards' roster. If your reaction to a player's name is, "Wooo," that player should get a Goldkey2_medium . If you instead think "Booo," then they'd get a Redlock2_medium. If the first thing that comes to mind is "meh," then that player probably deserves a Guestpass_medium.

There's only so many we can invite inside for Thanksgiving dinner, so for which Wizards will we reserve a seat at our royal table?


John Wall

#2 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 14 points, 16 assists, 5 rebounds, 39 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 15 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 41 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 37 points, 2 assists, 6 rebounds, 40 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 37 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 40 minutes

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Wall gets a Key this week. He was the only reason the Wizards had a shot at a 4-0 week, as he kept them competitive against the Raptors and also keyed the wins over Minnesota and New York. Wall has showcased his true potential with previous spurts like this, but could this be the beginning of a sustained level of elite performance?


Bradley Beal

#3 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 25 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 38 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 41 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 43 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 40 minutes

After starting the week with two stellar, All-Star worthy performances against the T-Wolves and Cavs, Beal tailed off a bit against the Raptors and Knicks, shooting a combined 3-for-16 from three across both contests. Still, Beal did more than enough last week to earn himself a Key, and the cold outdoors are no place to heal a recurring leg injury.


Nene Hilario

#42 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 35 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 38 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 37 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 35 minutes

Nene didn't have the best game against the Raptors, and his stats were even more pedestrian against New York, but for the most part the big Brazilian has been consistently excellent. Wall runs the show, but it's often Nene whom Wall turns to when things get thrown off schedule.


Marcin Gortat

#4 / Center / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 31 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 32 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 32 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 16 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 37 minutes

Like the rest of his teammates not named John Wall, Gortat had a stinker against the Raptors, shooting 3-for-10. But he redeemed himself and then some against Knicks, hauling in 17 rebounds to account for an otherwise underwhelming week on the boards. We expect more consistency from Gortat moving forward, but he's generally manned the paint well for the Wiz and proved a more-than-capable partner for Nene. If we had to pick a starter to lock out this week, it'd probably be Gortat, but he's earned his keep.


Martell Webster

#9 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 43 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 36 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 42 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 40 minutes

Ah, it's been fun having Webster back in the starting lineup, eh? Not that Trevor Ariza was doing a poor job, but is there anything more gleeful than watching Webster rain down wide open threes? Solid rebounding and assist totals complement Webster's typically-solid 13-for-32 shooting (40.6 percent) from three last week, which means all five Wizards' starters get a Key.


Jan Vesely

#24 / Center / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 0 assists, 19 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 4 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 22 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 0 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 11 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 2 points, 5 rebounds, 0 assists, 23 minutes

Oh Jan, what to do with you? I'm a declared passenger on the #WolfWagon, but how can I ignore your minus-19 against the Cavs, and minus-13 against the Raps? Sure, you're leading the team in rebounding rate with 10.7 boards per 36 minutes (just ahead of Gortat at 10.5), but you also had zero assists last week. Right now you're the best player on the Wizards' bench, but that's not saying much considering it's the worst bench in the NBA.

Ugh. You know what, since I can see where this is headed, and I don't want an odd number of players in the Palace, I'll let you in, but I'm not trusting you with a key, ya got it? Consider yourself lucky.


Eric Maynor

#6 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 2 points, 2 assists, 0 rebounds, 4 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 0 points, 0 assists, 5 rebounds, 7 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 3 points, 1 assist, 0 rebounds, 8 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 0 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 10 minutes



Garrett Temple

#17 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 2 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 15 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 4 points, 0 assists, 2 rebounds, 20 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 2 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 17 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: 4 points, 0 assists, 2 rebounds, 16 minutes

I realize Temple is mainly asked to just play defense and not screw up on offense, and that he does both of those things reasonably well, but when the only thing really working in your favor is that you aren't Eric Maynor, sorry, that isn't Palace material.


Trevor Booker

#35 / Forward / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 2 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 11 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: 2 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 4 minutes
  • @ Toronto: 0 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 4 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: DNP (coach's decision)

As mentioned previously, the Wizards' bench is horrible, and Booker can barely get off it. Ick.


Kevin Seraphin

#13 / Center / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Cleveland: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Toronto: 4 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 7 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: DNP (coach's decision)

What a train wreck this has become.


Glen Rice Jr.

#14 / Guard / Washington Wizards

This Week

  • vs. Minnesota: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assists, 4 minutes
  • @ Cleveland: DNP (coach's decision)
  • @ Toronto: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 minutes
  • vs. NY Knicks: DNP (coach's decision)

#freeGRJR might be in full swing with Beal injured, but the rookie has yet to earn sanctuary.


We'll take a pass on Otto Porter, Chris Singleton, Ariza and Al Harrington, all of whom were sidelined last week with injuries. The first three were recently cleared for practice, so hopefully we'll be passing judgment on them soon.

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