The Wizards are 1-4 after a loss to the Raptors at home last Wednesday, a win against the Hawks last Friday, and a close loss to the Magic on Saturday. The start is slow in typical Wizards fashion, but this year, the losses are because of poor bench play, not because the starting five has a major weakness.
So I have multiple keys to hand out, but also multiple lockouts. Let’s get to the roll call.
Keys to the Palace
Markieff Morris, 14 ppg, 6.7 ppg, 2 apg
Morris made just one third of his shots this past week. But he has a knack of making shots at the right time, like last Friday against the Hawks when he often played with the second unit. Morris also had a clear look to make the game winning shot on Saturday against the Magic.
You just cant look at stats and efficiency alone when giving evaluations. That said, Morris’ floor on the scoring end can be better than a 2 for 7 shooting performance against the Raptors when he also played 36 minutes in the game.
Though this performance was key-worthy for last week, it probably won’t be in future weeks since Morris is shining. So I’m adjusting my expectations accordingly.
Otto Porter, 13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg
Porter shot at least 50 percent from the field each game this past week. He also got out of his three-point shooting slump on Saturday when he made two of his three shots from beyond the arc.
Like Morris, Porter is a chameleon of sorts — he can make an impact in many areas on both offense and defense without being someone who “demands the ball.” After all, his usage rate was just 13.2 percent this past week.
Tomas Satoransky, 4.7 ppg, 2 apg
The rookie “who isn’t really a rookie” got his first start on Saturday against the Magic when John Wall rested as part of a rehab procedure. In Wall’s place, Satoransky played 32 minutes where he scored 8 points on 4 of 7 shooting and dished 3 assists. They certainly aren’t Wall-esque numbers, but the half court offense was composed while he was out on the court.
Often times, rookies don’t play as well when they are quickly placed into roles where they play more minutes than originally expected. Satoransky has bucked that trend. In fact, he had the best individual net rating of all Wizards players (+7.1 points per 100 possessions). Keep in mind that he averaged over 21 minutes a game last week, so he’s not a statistical outlier.
It sounds like a reach to give Sato a key since he didn’t score 30 points or dish 10 assists. But like many great players from European leagues (and you should be familiar with one on D.C.’s other pro basketball team), their impact often comes from their mentality — which you can’t put on a box score. Since he managed Saturday’s game very well and handled his increased role on the team quite well, he deserves a key.
Guest Passes for Above Average Play
Marcin Gortat, 11.7 ppg, 13 rpg, 1.3 apg
The Polish Machine has grabbed over 10 rebounds a game in every game this season. Yes, his numbers are excellent, but why didn’t I give him a key?
It’s because he hasn’t given us the “wow” game where he erupts for 20 points yet — and he’s still more than capable of doing just that. But more importantly, he shot just 3 for 10 in the Magic game on Saturday.
John Wall, 27 ppg, 8.5 apg, 7.5 rpg, 2.5 spg
Wall averaged 5.5 turnovers in the two games he played last week (thanks to a 9 TO performance against the Raptors), and his three point shooting efficiency was still 20 percent. You can argue that he should get a Key given his overall contribution, but that’s what we expect Wall to be the alpha dog nearly every night. So why am I not giving it to him?
It’s because he almost gave up 10 turnovers on one night. It isn’t something we should expect from Wall — and the starting lineup is intact from last year.
That said, Wall shot 55.6 percent overall from the field and played like a superstar on a team that forces him to be like this more often than he should. If he can keep playing like this more often than not, the Wizards will win more games in spite of their pathetic bench play — which is more of a reflection on Ernie Grunfeld than Scott Brooks, at least for now.
Guest Passes for Average or Below Average Play
Bradley Beal - 19.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2 rpg. 1.3 bpg
Beal didn’t shoot 40 percent from the field in any game this past week. And he has still yet to have a very hot night from the three point line.
Anyway, Beal’s 28 point performance (along with 13 of 14 shooting at the foul line) against the Hawks helped him move into guest pass territory or I may have kept him locked out for the second straight week.
Beal’s overall numbers are good if that’s all you want to look at. But maximum contract players should be shooting a bit more efficiently.
Andrew Nicholson - 4.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Nicholson had significant playing time in the first two games, but his time went down a bit in week 2. His highlight was a 9 point, 4 rebound performance against the Magic when he had just 10 minutes off the bench.
Marcus Thornton - 6 ppg, 1.7 apg, 0.7 apg
Thornton was quite efficient at 47.1 percent which is why he isn’t locked out. He wasn’t good at all — but better than the players I did lock out. Still, despite Thornton’s efficient week, his offensive rating is 91.2 and defensive rating of 109.9 all but shows that he isn’t an asset on this roster.
But ... we don’t really have many decent guards so ... we’re just going to have to hope he has more consistent shooting nights than not.
Trey Burke - 1.3 ppg
Burke shot 25 percent from the field and had the Wizards’ worst net rating at -41.0. So much for hoping he was going to be a factor in the second unit...
Kelly Oubre Jr. - 2.5 ppg
Oubre’s traditional stat line doesn’t make it seem that he was terrible in the two games he played in since he didn’t see action in the Hawks game on Friday.
But his individual defense was poor and he didn’t fit well in the offense either. Ultimately, Oubre had the second-worst net rating at -32.1.
So much for the narrative that he would replace Porter in the starting lineup this season.
Jason Smith - 0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Smith didn’t score last week, and was a DNP-CD for the Raptors game. Though he wasn’t on the floor when the Wizards were trying to give the game away to the Hawks in the fourth quarter, he was when they were playing against the Magic. Since he’s a veteran — and someone who’s supposed to be reliable when he’s there — that’s enough to lock him out.
No evaluation due to injury
Ian Mahinmi won’t be in action until December. He’ll be a boost for the second unit, but he won’t solve all of the backups’ problems either.
No evaluation due to lack of playing time
Danuel House, Sheldon McClellan, and Daniel Ochefu didn’t play. Given how poor the bench was last week and that Brooks has increased Satoransky’s role quickly, this is a tacit admission that these three would probably play even worse. I would clamor for them to play if this was the 2011-12 Wizards season when everyone and his/her mother knew that Washington was lottery-bound. But this year’s team is going for a postseason berth and then some, so I would rather see players who are able to make a contribution right away.
Like I said last week, you can’t expect all (or really even one) of your undrafted rookies to be the Wizards’ version of Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. That said, NBA teams have the D-League. It wouldn’t hurt to consider giving them a spell there to get valuable playing time that they wouldn’t get on the first team...
...except that the Wizards don’t have a D-League affiliate yet. Though the Wizards don’t have a D-League affiliate, they still are able to send their players there on assignment. I think it’s something they should consider with them.
For those three, any time as a rotation player or starter in the D-League beats riding on the bench every game in my opinion. If they can get some valuable playing time soon, that could help them move their NBA careers forward.