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Keys to the Palace: Most Wizards starters get keys, most bench players get locked out

New week of evaluations, same old story.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards had a disappointing loss to the Spurs on Saturday. With that game, it wasn’t like we expected them to win. The thing was that we saw the Wizards just unable to execute against a team that is as close to super-star less as any, but still knows how to get things done night in and night out.

I’ll also add that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the Wizards’ win against the Magic. It was another case of the “Wizards race to an early lead and gradually give it away” story.

That said, Washington ended up 2-1 for the week. Fortunately, that was because the starters did a better job of getting ahead than the bench did to give everything away. With that mind, that’s how most of the weekly awards were handed out.

Keys to the Palace

John Wall, 21.7 ppg, 10 apg, 4.7 rpg

No complaints about Wall’s overall performance in general. He gave a lot offensively in each game. Though I was thinking about giving him a pass instead because of the Spurs performance where his assists and his individual defense took a dive, the Wizards were 2-1 this week because Wall was playing 37-38 minutes a night. Wall’s most pivotal performance was against the Magic where he made key buckets to close out the game after the Wizards’ bench was doing their best to give it up ... again.

Because Washington’s bench lacks depth, I’d play Wall 48 minutes a game every game if rest or “rehab advice” weren’t an issue, I wish the Wizards could have rested him a bit more during the Orlando game.

Bradley Beal, 27 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4 rpg

Beal’s big night was on Monday when he scored 42 points and made 5 of 10 threes, all career highs. I know some folks criticized Beal for not taking more shots against the Magic last Wednesday when he had just 14 points.

But if you read Emma Meesseman’s quote about “American” basketball, you’d also get that taking every possible shot isn’t the right thing to do. A player like Beal must be able to contribute in other ways than scoring.

In the Magic game, Beal dished eight assists though I’m not thrilled about the chokehold he did on Evan Fournier. He can’t risk getting suspended with the bench lacking depth. If he was, I would have locked him out despite his performances.

Marcin Gortat, 10.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg

Gortat continues to be a double double machine, though I expect that to end soon with Ian Mahinmi officially back in action. That’s a good thing because the Polish Machine can use some rest.

Last week, Gortat also protected the rim very well. He defended 7.3 shots per game at the rim last week and only allowed 45.5 percents of those shots to go in. That rate is 5th in the NBA among players who defend at least seven shots a game at the rim.

Otto Porter, 14 ppg, 8 rpg

We’re getting used to seeing Porter be a solid contributor every night but complain about why he doesn’t do more. On the flip side, without Porter, the Wizards would be considerably worse.

This past week, he didn’t shoot well against the Suns, but improved as the week went on. His performance against the Spurs was one of his better showings this season in my opinion.

Guest Passes

Kelly Oubre Jr. - 2 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Oubre’s best performance was against the Suns where he played 25 minutes, scored 5 points, disheed three assists, and grabbed four rebounds. Yes, his shooting percentage was 22.2 percent for the week, but Oubre’s playing time fluctuates quite wildly, so I evaluated him moreso on the Suns and Magic games, but not so much with the Spurs where he played three minutes.

Trey Burke, 4 ppg

Burke scored nine points in eight minutes against the Spurs on Saturday when the game was all but decided. That said, Satoransky has been in a slump and Burke produced when called upon. Burke didn’t do much in the Suns game, the other contest he played.

If Burke does get back into the rotation, he’s going to have to produce as soon as he gets on the court, whether it’s garbage time or not. The bench as a whole needs to produce when they’re on. They’re not simply bodies to stand around until a starter returns.


Markieff Morris, 9.3 ppg, 3 rpg

Morris has been a brighter side for the Wizards this season. Ejections in and of itself shouldn’t be why a player gets locked out, but Morris got ejected in the middle of the third quarter of Saturday’s game with the Wizards down 65-55. I’m not saying the Morris would have helped the Wizards win. But I’d say they may have had a chance to do it. Also, the bench depth is non-existent.

Tomas Satoransky, 2 ppg, 1.7 apg

At his best, Sato has shown that he can play solid fundamentals and run an offense like he did a couple years ago. But last week, he was at his worst. The assists were there, but he was bricking the shots he took and looked overmatched against the Spurs — who play more European-esque than anyone else in the NBA. They even have the mentality of a European club for that matter.

Jason Smith, Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson

When any of them are on the floor, the lineup takes a hit in terms of its effectiveness. When all three play together, no wonder why the Wizards give up big first quarter leads more often than not.

Not Enough Time for an Evaluation

Ian Mahinmi came back Saturday. But I’m not confident evaluating him when he had to play alongside some of the underperforming bench players. Sheldon McClellan played one minute last week.

As for Daniel Ochefu and Danuel House, keep working in practice and you may find yourself getting time in that rotation.