Keys to the Palace is a weekly feature where we rank each Wizards player based on their performance for the week. Keys to the Palace is named former Wizards' coach Ed Tapscott who said this when he was asked about how he decides on his player rotations.
"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."
Each player on the team will be ranked into one of three categories, based on their performance the previous week. Players who play well will earn a Key to the Palace. Players who underperform get locked out. Players who fall in the middle ground get a Guest Pass that gives them access to certain parts of the Palace, but not the fancy stuff that makes it feel like a luxurious place to live.
It's important to keep in mind these rankings are relative. Kelly Oubre doesn't have to do as much to earn a key as Otto Porter does. That said, here is where each player lands for their performance in last week's performances against the Thunder, Magic, and Bucks.
Keys to the Palace
Garrett Temple - Temple finally got a chance for some real playing time this week and as always, he seems to give the team exactly what they need. Last Tuesday against the Thunder, he helped spearhead a unit alongside Ramon Sessions, Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley and DeJuan Blair that outscored Oklahoma City during the nine minutes it was on the court. Granted, you could argue the Thunder may have been taking their foot off the gas during most of that stretch, but someone still has to take advantage of those opportunities and Temple did.
On Saturday, he was rewarded with the start against the Magic, and he came through with a career-high 18 points and played a big part in forcing Evan Fournier into a bad night as the Wizards got back into the win column. He was a little more modest against the Bucks but still helped keep things moving as the Wizards cruised to their best win of the season.
Kris Humphries - Humphries was as guilty as everyone else for his role in Tuesday's loss to the Thunder, but he redeemed himself in a big way on Saturday night against the Magic. We've already talked quite a bit about his performance, so we'll spare you the details here, but he's been a big part of why the team was able to survive Beal's absence offensively the past two games.
Jared Dudley - He’s been a net positive player for the Wizards all season long, but it was nice to see the positive impact he’s had all season finally translate to something meaningful in the boxscore on Tuesday against the Bucks, when he had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists against his former team.
Slowly but surely, Dudley is starting to play more minutes, and as he does, the Wizards’ offense and defense is benefitting from his presence. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Wizards’ post their best offensive and defensive ratings with Dudley on the floor, and he does it just the way you’d hope, by changing the team’s fortunes on three-pointers. The Wizards shoot 42.5 percent from beyond the arc when he’s on the floor, and opposing teams are only shooting 30.5 percent.
Kelly Oubre - After an eye-opening performance against the Thunder, Oubre cooled off against the Magic, but still had a nice moment when he finished through contact here to get the and-one (via BBALLBREAKDOWN):
This is a great sign for how far along Oubre has come in just a short time in playing through contact. At Summer League, Oubre looked like a guy looking to run into someone just to collect insurance money, with no real plan on how to capitalize after making contact. Slowly, he's getting better at playing through the whistle, which will make him a much more effective scoring threat moving forward.
Ramon Sessions - Confounding stat of the week: Ramon Sessions shot better in the paint (57.1 percent) than he did from the free throw line (50 percent).
Otto Porter - Like Dudley, Porter's shooting was off, but compensated in other areas. He was a team-high +20 against the Magic in a game where no one else had a plus/minus better than +8, and finally came back to life with a 19 point outing against Milwaukee.
Nene - After all the talk about how the Magic's young frontcourt exposed the Wizards in the season opener, Nene came back with a vengeance for Saturday's game. Just ask Aaron Gordon:
He also reminded us he still has some nifty passing skills against Milwaukee:
That said, we can't ignore how he was unable to play against the Thunder. That killed any shot the Wizards had of making Tuesday's game competitive before it even began. The Wizards can't afford for him to not be healthy this season.
Gary Neal - The past week clearly showed he’s better suited coming off the bench, rather than trying to fill in as a starter when Bradley Beal is out, but that said, he didn’t have a bad week. He made half of his shots, shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc and finished with a plus/minus of exactly 0 over the past three games. He could not have been more average this week.
John Wall - Wall played like someone who was going to wind up locked out for the first half of the week. Russell Westbrook manhandled him, he had a bad showing early against the Magic. But Wall took over in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ win against the Magic and had a very strong game against Milwaukee, save for the five turnovers.
At some point, it might just be best to acknowledge you can’t get the best out of Wall without putting him in a position where he makes more turnovers than you might want. The Wizards desperately need Wall to penetrate the defense to create scoring opportunities. At times, this means Wall has to make moves and hope people are where they're supposed to be when he throws the ball because otherwise they're not going to score anyway. Still it can be discouraging when you see things like this:
But on the whole, an aggressive Wall is far better than one who is focused on guarding the ball.
Marcin Gortat - After a disastrous game against the Thunder, Gortat responded with better games against the Magic and Bucks, but he’s still just not himself, especially on the offensive end. Compare his 2014-15 shot chart with this season’s edition:
Drew Gooden - Gooden has not made a field goal since Halloween.
DeJuan Blair - Blair is averaging 3.3 fouls per game in 8.5 minutes of action.
Get better soon, Bradley Beal, Alan Anderson, and Martell Webster.
All stats via NBA.com unless otherwise indicated.