#WizardsRank: Kevin Seraphin, No. 8: Wittman's Man in the Middle
Truth About It.net turns a whole five years old at the end of October, which is right about now.
Hard to believe/interesting. Nonetheless, over the life of the site from the 2007-08 season to 2011-12, we’ve seen/lived/suffered through 131 wins, 263 losses, four coaches, two owners, one GM/team president, one Phil Chenier mustache removal, and 56 total players (amazingly, 48 players over the last three seasons).
You may have heard of ESPN’s #NBArank project, now in year two. Now hear of #WizardsRank, where we rank each of those 56 players during Truth About It.net’s five-year run. TAI anonymously polled 27 members of the Wizards pixel establishment — from mainstream media to new media, TAI staffers included, to a few pixel consumers (readers of the site) — and got 17 responses.
Participants were given the full list of 56 in alphabetical order, and included for each player were total games, minutes, PER (player efficiency rating), and WS/48 (win-shares per 48 minutes) only from the last five seasons. Participants were asked to rate each player on the scale of 1-to-10 according to this criteria: on court performance; off court performance; intangibles; and own personal memory. Yes, this is totally subjective, but relatively collective.
#WizardsRank Nos. 56 to 9 have been posted and links can be found at the bottom of this post. -Kyle W.
6.18 out of 10
(115 games, 1,811 minutes, 13.2 PER, .067 WS/48)
Kevin Seraphin is a household name … in some households. He’s still losing the Washington, D.C. popularity contest to the city’s sporting sons on the Redskins, Capitals and Nationals, but Seraphin has become somewhat of a cult figure with his post play. More than a few Wizards faithful even call themselves “SeraPhans.”
“There is some ability here, but he has an awful lot of work to do at both ends to become a solid rotation player,” Hollinger wrote. “Seraphin has a nice right-hand jump hook and the power to establish good position on the block, but there is no deception to his game and he can’t handle the ball.”
Limited offensive skill. No deception to his game. That was fall 2011. By spring of 2012, Seraphin had begun to get more playing time, showing off some of the Association’s toughest (though often illegal) screens and an improved mid-range jumper. His first start of the season, the second of his career, came in a 95-102 loss to the Orlando Magic on February 29. The big man scored four points and added a pair of blocks and two rebounds in 16 minutes.
A few months later, on March 15, 2012, when the Wizards flipped JaVale McGee to Denver for center Nene, Seraphin was averaging 3.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and one block in just over 13 minutes per game (that’s a respectable 9.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes). A look at Seraphin’s advanced stats suggested that the big man made strides in his second year, particularly on the offensive end of the floor—in some cases, Seraphin even outperformed newcomer Nene.
Head Coach Randy Wittman doesn’t dole out minutes on a first come, first serve basis. Playing time must be earned. And Seraphin, to his credit, earned a spot in the starting lineup. He appeared in 57 games as a sophomore, averaging 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just over 20 minutes per game. In 21 starts—most of which came after the March trade deadline—Seraphin upped his averages to 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game (and blocked at least five shots in a single game on three separate occasions). He finished the season shooting 67.4 percent at the rim, 46.3 percent from 3-to-9 feet, and made an impressive 46 percent of his shots from between 16-and-23 feet.
A local journalist asked Seraphin, after a 77-79 loss to the Detroit Pistons in March, if it was different taking the court as a starter. Seraphin responded: “I knew only, like, 20 minutes before the game. That’s like yesterday, so I just play.” Against the Pistons that night, he put up 12 points, five rebounds and a block. But in a game against the Boston Celtics the night before, Seraphin, a last-minute starter, double-doubled with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while adding two steals and a block.
“I think I’ve made a big step, compared to last year,” said Seraphin this spring about his progression from year one to year two. “Last year I was not ready to play. I didn’t have confidence, I was worried to make mistakes, I was scared. Now I play—I just play. If I make a mistake, it doesn’t matter, I will go back to the defense or to the next play.”
As for the questions about his offense and predictable back-to-the-basket game, Seraphin answered those, too.
“I started to work on my left hook maybe four years ago,” said the 22-year-old, one of the longest-tenured players on the Wizards roster. “Now, I start to get it because I used to really only go on the right and never go on the left. Now I try to go both, because that’s easy for me to attack if the defense doesn’t know which side I go.”
The most curious and encouraging development in Seraphin’s game came in the rebounding department. Back to Hollinger’s insider take from the fall of 2011: “Seraphin is great on the offensive glass, where he had the third-best offensive rebound rate among power forwards. Defensively, however, only three power forwards were worse on the boards, and for an alleged energy guy this is an alarm bell.”
Last season Seraphin typically battled against opposing 5s, and his offensive rebound rate (the percentage of offensive rebounds grabbed by a player during his time on the court) dropped from 13.9 to 9.8. (He’s a better rebounder at PF than he is at C, for what it’s worth; not surprising, given he’s 6-foot-9.)
Despite that drop off, he ranked 36th out of a possible 97 centers and outperformed the likes of Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes, Timofey Mozgov, injured two-time All-Star Al Horford, Bismack Biyombo, Kendrick Perkins, and Chris Kaman. He did, however, increase his defensive rebound rate from 13.4 to 17.1, which tied him with Ian Mahinmi of the Dallas Mavericks and put him ahead of players like Larry Sanders, an injured Horford (again), Andrea Bargnani, and Robin Lopez.
Seraphin, by the numbers, developed into one of the league’s best pick-and-roll men. A report via mySynergySports.com showed that in offensive plays as the roll man, Seraphin scored 1.13 points per play, shooting .587 from the field. Defending the two-man game, Seraphin held opposing roll men to just 0.6 points per play, the fourth-best mark in the NBA.
This fall, Hollinger has changed his Wizards tune, at least when it comes to Kevin Seraphin:
“The most encouraging thing about Washington’s largely forgettable season was the development shown by Seraphin. After a miserable rookie season, he showcased a much-improved midrange game to go with an effective jump hook in the post and, as a result, dramatically improved both his scoring and shooting percentages.
Defensively, he’s a beast in the making. Seraphin ranked as Washington’s top defender according to Synergy, as the Wizards gave up 6.3 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the court.”
The relationship between Seraphin and his coach is a positive one. “I’m tough, so I need someone tough with me,” Seraphin said of Wittman’s style in early October. “I like the way he coaches me.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games between the two. Wittman is a fan—a SeraPhan, if you will—but he coaches with tough love.
“That’s my guy,” Wittman said of Seraphin. “I learned I could coach Kevin last year. He takes it. He’s fine. He’s good. You learn what buttons you push. You can’t do everybody the same way. He responds well to a lot of that. And he’s a young kid still. Any time I can get him and bring him over I can.”
The NBA regular season tipped off on Tuesday night with Seraphin saddled to the sideline with a calf injury, but word is that he’s close to returning, perhaps in time for this Saturday’s home opener against the Boston Celtics. The Wizards could use his talent in the paint, on both offense and defense. But just how how far can Wittman and Seraphin take the Wizards? That’s up for debate, but it’s becoming clear that Seraphin needs the Wizards as much as they need him right now.
Let’s enjoy the ride.
—John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend)
No. 56: Cedric Jackson; No. 55: Mike Bibby; No. 54: Paul Davis; No. 53: Edwin Ubiles; No. 52: Quinton Ross.
No. 51: Mike Wilks; No. 50: Mike Harris; No. 49: Javaris Crittenton; No. 48: Dee Brown; No. 47: Morris Almond.
No. 46: Larry Owens; No. 45: Mustafa Shakur; No. 44: Brian Cook; No. 43: Hamady N’diaye; No. 42: Rashard Lewis.
No. 41: Hilton Armstrong; No. 40: Oleksiy Pecherov; No. 39: Mike James; No. 38: Fabricio Oberto; No. 37: Ronny Turiaf.
No. 36: Lester Hudson; No. 35: Yi Jianlian; No. 34: Juan Dixon; No. 33: Josh Howard; No. 32: Chris Singleton.
No. 31: Al Thornton; No. 30: Shelvin Mack; No. 29: Mo Evans; No. 28: Mike Miller; No. 27: Alonzo Gee.
No. 26: Randy Foye; No. 25: Dominic McGuire; No. 24: Andray Blatche; No. 23: Earl Boykins; No. 22: Roger Mason.