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 his 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 against the Rockets, Pelicans, Mavericks and Grizzlies.
Keys to the Palace
John Wall - John Wall finally cooled off on Monday after a blistering-hot start to December, only scoring 6 points against the Grizzlies. The scary thing about Wall's struggles on Monday were how they exposed just how dependent the team is on him to make shots in order to keep the team competitive. The Wizards are 1-5 when he scores less than 15 points.
Gary Neal - It's easy to compare high-scoring players off the bench like Gary Neal to microwaves, but it's better to compare him to a microwave meal.
It's food. Deep down inside, you know it isn't good for you, but at the same time, if you're broke and there's nothing left in the fridge what other options do you have? For the fourth time in four years, your freeze broke and spoiled the rack of ribs you bought, and you can only have your main staples so often before your body knows what's about to happen and figures out a way to keep you from going to your bread and butter.
Microwave meals may not be the most luxurious way to live, but it sure beats starving. Maybe's it slowly killing you inside because of the high levels of sodium or DRtg, but at least a slow death is better than just sitting there wasting away to nothing.
And at the end of the day, it's hard to be angry at the microwave meal. It can't help that it is what it is, and honestly, for what you paid for it, the value is pretty good. The worry is that in your time of desperation you develop a fondness for the microwave meal. Once you're there, the only release from your 1100 watt hell is when the buzzer goes off to let you know it's finished.
Jared Dudley - Over the past two weeks, the Wizards have ramped up his minutes allowance. He played 33 minutes or more in 4 of team's last six games. The only exceptions came in Washington's home loss to Dallas and Monday's blowout loss to Memphis.
But as Dudley's minutes go up, his magical effect on the team's performance has waned. Dudley had the lowest Net Rating of any Wizard who played in all four contests last week. What's even more odd is he shot the ball really well, going 9-15 from beyond the arc and shooting 51.5 percent from the field, so it's not as if opposing defenses are forcing him to shoot and he's failing.
One thing that has been suffering with Dudley playing more is the team's rebounding. The Wizards grab 47.1 percent of boards with Dudley on the floor. When he's off, the Wizards grab 48.8 percent. Last week, the split was more noticeable, with the Wizards winning the rebounding battle (50.8 percent) with Dudley off the floor, but losing (46.3 percent) when he was on the floor.
Garrett Temple - Unlike Dudley, Temple's weird effect positive effect continues to rub off on the Wizards, even though he's not shooting well. On the season, he's one of only two players with a positive plus/minus. Granted, plus/minus is a flawed statistic, especially when applied in the wrong context. But at the same time, it should say something that the Wizards keep performing well with him on the floor.
That said, his magical on-court value won't continue to hold up if he and Jared Dudley keep messing up defensive assignments like this:
Marcin Gortat - Thankfully for the Wizards, Gortat picked up right where he left off after a brief absence last week. He averaged 13 & 10 for the week and had some very low-key solid performances vs. the Mavericks and Pelicans, but oddly against the Grizzlies, he showed some of the reasons why Randy Wittman still opts to bench him in some fourth quarters. Marc Gasol used his high-post skills to draw Marcin Gortat out of the paint and put him in spots where he can't recover in time to cut off penetration, like he did here:
This issue only gets worse when teams play non-traditionals fives, especially if they can defend the pick-and-roll well. Certainly, Randy Wittman isn't without blame in how he manages Gortat's minutes in the fourth quarter, but he's not completely wrong either.
Ramon Sessions - Ramon is a fast-food version of Gary Neal. Slightly more refined, slightly more filling.
Otto Porter - Porter had a nice little surge, capped off by a career-high 28 point performance against the Mavericks on Saturday, before falling back to earth against the Grizzlies. It's nice to see Otto have some good moments, but the next step in his development is being more consistent.
DeJuan Blair - Sure, why not? Blair had his best week of the season.
Kelly Oubre - Oubre has 4 assists this season.
Kris Humphries - Humphries has made 3 three-pointers since his 23 point performance against the Magic on November 14.
Ryan Hollins - At least he didn't miss a shot this week (1-1 from the field).
Get better soon Alan Anderson, Nene, Drew Gooden and Bradley Beal.