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 Spurs, Celtics and Hawks.
Keys to the Palace
Otto Porter - Porter was the team's second-leading scorer this week, averaging 17 points per game and making two-thirds of his shots this week. His performance against the Hawks (where he scored a career-high 23 points) was outstanding, but he was quietly very effective against the Spurs and Celtics as well. His efficiency will take a dip if Beal misses time and he has to take on a bigger role in initiating offensive sets, but it was nice to see him bounce back after an uninspiring opening week.
Bradley Beal - Beal had another spectacular week at the office, injury aside. Beal got the headlines for his game-winning shot against the Spurs, but he played well all week, averaging 20 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Other than turning the ball over at a high rate (a plague that seems to be affecting every Wizard at the moment) Beal played like a max guy.
John Wall - Wall coughed up the ball 16 times in 3 games. Part of it is the team clearly isn't fully comfortable with the offense, but at the same time, Wall isn't making things any better by trying to do more than he should. And if Beal has to miss time with the injury he suffered against the Hawks, that's only going to put more pressure on Wall to do more than he should to keep the offense afloat.
Nene - We got more good Nene than bad Nene this week. He struggled against Boston's frontline, which shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, but he was just what the Wizards needed off-the-bench against the Spurs and Hawks.
You could even say he earned a bit of redemption with how he performed in Atlanta on Saturday. After all the talk about how he was exposed against the Hawks during the playoffs, he responded with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists in 20 minutes, and showed Mike Muscala how he feels about stretch big men:
Kris Humphries - In a season where there's been a lot of changes, he has been remarkably consistent in his new role. He's not going to take over the world as a stretch four, but he's not wrecking the team either. He's staying in his lane and that's all the team needs him to do in his new role.
Kelly Oubre - Only two players finished with a positive plus/minus this week: John Wall and Kelly Oubre. Sure, it helped that Oubre only played in garbage time, and yes, he got fined $15,000 for a major palming violation, but I'm desperate for anything positive at this point so he gets in.
Gary Neal - Neal shot the ball better than he did last week, making nearly half of his shots, but otherwise he was a mess. He had more turnovers than assists this week and had more fouls than rebounds. He was also -44 in 50 minutes of action. The bench unit struggled all week and Neal certainly played a big part in the team's struggles.
Ramon Sessions - Of course, Neal doesn't deserve all the blame for the bench's woes this week. After a blazing hot start to the season, Razor Ramon came crashing back down to earth this week. He only had six assists in 50 minutes of action and couldn't score worth a lick. Teams will let you get wherever you want to go on the floor and dare you to beat them when you shoot like this (via NBA.com):
Marcin Gortat - The Machine is still struggling to find his role in the new offensive system. Even though he's getting the ball inside quite a bit, he's being forced to shoot the ball from some funky angles he's not accustomed to, which is hurting his output. But he's also flat-out missing some shots he needs to make. He's 5-15 (33.3 percent) on layups so far this season. Last year, he shot 68.9 percent on those shots. If that doesn't improve, the Wizards' offense will flounder.
Garrett Temple - Meh.
Jared Dudley - You can already see how Jared Dudley is going to make the team better once he's back to full health, not only with his ability to stretch the floor and guard other playmaking forwards, but with those smart, veteran things that guys like him are supposed to provide. You could see some of that at play against the Spurs, where he helped close out the win.
That said, he's not quite where he needs to be right now to take the team to the next level. He was only 1-7 beyond the arc and he's not quite as sharp on the defensive end as he needs to be to handle the important defensive assignments he has to handle in his role.
Drew Gooden - Gooden didn't play on Friday or Saturday due to knee pain. Hopefully that explains some of his struggles this season, particularly against the Spurs where was 0-4 from the field and a -17 in just eight minutes of action. The good news is, the Wizards can afford to let him get some rest now that Jared Dudley is back. They should take advantage of it since Humphries and Dudley are holding it down right now.
DeJuan Blair - Blair played 7:40 against the Celtics. He committed five fouls and three turnovers.
Not ranked this week
Get well soon Alan Anderson and Martell Webster.