Keys to the Palace is a weekly feature where we rank each Wizards player based on their performance for the week. It 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. That said, here is where each player lands for their performances over the holidays against the Grizzlies, Nets, Clippers, Raptors, Magic and Heat.
Keys to the Palace
Marcin Gortat - So here's the thing: Gortat's shooting efficiency dipped over the last six games, as he only shot 48 percent from the field, but it went down for mostly the right reasons. He has to shoot more, which isn't ideal, but necessary given the team's injuries. Even though he's not a great shot creator, he's better than all other alternatives right now, so we can't fault him for shooting a little less effectively, because he still stands a better shot of scoring than the other guys out there.
Furthermore, he's helping the Wizards offensively by hitting the glass. He's grabbed at least two offensive rebounds in each of the last ten games. That's the third-longest active streak in the NBA this season, behind only Andre Drummond and Brook Lopez, according to Basketball-Reference.
That said, the way he was handled on Sunday by Hassan Whiteside was a bit concerning, as Bryan Frantz noted for Truth About It:
There really wasn’t a "most valuable player" for the Wizards, honestly. I guess you could go with Marcin Gortat, who racked up eight offensive rebounds, but he was blocked four times (by my count) by Hassan Whiteside, who Gortat said of after the game, "I personally haven’t seen a better shot-blocker in the past nine years in the league." It’s worth noting Gortat made his bones in the NBA as Dwight Howard’s backup in Orlando; it’s also worth noting that Wall disagrees with Gortat’s evaluation of Whiteside. When I informed him of Gortat’s comments, Wall responded, "Nah, man, Gortat says that about everybody who blocks shots."
Kelly Oubre - You have to embrace the good with the bad when it comes to rookies, but right now, we just want to hold this good stretch tight and never let it go.
At a time when other rookies are starting to hit a wall, Oubre seems to be getting better. He's shooting the ball effectively (51.5 percent from the field over the last six games), doing good work on the glass, and even showed some signs of improvement on defense, particularly against the Magic.
There is still a lot Oubre needs to work on to have a meaningful role on a successful team, but he's shown a willingness and ability to adapt as situations have changed this season, and that's an important first step.
John Wall - Player of the Month? Yeah, you can come in the Palace.
Otto Porter - Over the last five games, Porter is averaging 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. That's the Otto Porter we saw in last season's playoffs, and the one the Wizards have needed all season long.
Ramon Sessions - Sessions had the key right up until this point:
You can't do that and keep a key. Sorry, Ramon.
Jared Dudley - For a fleeting moment, Jared Dudley had the best three-point percentage in the NBA. Like winning a coach of the year award, leading the NBA in three-point percentage is a sign you're probably about to hit a rough patch, and that's what happened for Dudley. He's only shot 31.6 percent from beyond the arc over the last six games.
Jarell Eddie - Eddie has played 51 minutes and attempted 18 three-pointers in that time. That's an average of one three every 2.8 minutes. By comparison, Stephen Curry attempts a three every 3.3 minutes. The good news is he's shooting 38.9 percent so far, which is just about as good as you can ask for a midseason D-League call up. But at the same time, he doesn't help the Wizards' lack of playmaking ability with Beal and Nene out. It will be interesting to see if he sticks past the January 10 deadline when all contracts become guaranteed.
Garrett Temple - It shouldn't come as a surprise Temple is a better shooter when he's open, the difference between how well he shoots on contested and uncontested shots is staggering. According to NBA.com's Shot Tracking, Temple is shooting effective field goal percentage on jumpers where the closest defender is more than six feet away is 50 percent. When a defender is 4-6 feet away, it drops to 40.6 percent. When a defender is within four feet he's shooting 12.5 percent.
Over the last six games, Temple has only gotten 12 shots with at least six feet of separation. The other 25 were more tightly contested, which explains everything you need to know about why he's cooled off.
Kris Humphries - Hump had 11 points in just 13 minutes of action against the Magic. It was his best performance in weeks and the Wizards were still only a +1 with him on the court in a game they won by 12. Sadder yet, it's the first time he's posted a positive plus/minus since December 14. Basically, unless he's hitting more than half of his shots, it's hard for him to make an impact, even when the team tries to put him at the 5.
Get well soon Alan Anderson, Bradley Beal, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, Drew Gooden and Nene.