This Year’s Kevin Seraphin : TAI Wizards Player Previews 2013-14
[Truth About It.net player previews of Washington Wizards in 2013-14 -- For each player on this year's roster of 15, we take a look at what's at stake, an interesting statistic, and finally, where that player needs to improve (or excel) to make successful contributions toward a playoff goal.]
Eric Maynor via Conor Dirks; Garrett Temple via Adam McGinnis;
Otto Porter via Adam Rubin; Glen Rice, Jr. via Rashad Mobley;
Trevor Ariza via John C. Townsend; Trevor Booker via Adam Rubin;
Al Harrington via Kyle Weidie; Chris Singleton via Adam McGinnis;
Kevin Seraphin via Sean Fagan; Martell Webster via John C. Townsend;
Jan Vesely via Kyle Weidie & Lukas Kuba; Nene Hilario via Rashad Mobley;
Emeka Okafor via Sean Fagan;
Bradley Beal via Kyle Weidie; John Wall via Conor Dirks.
WHAT’S AT STAKE.
Actually, what really is at at stake is the ability of the Wizards to tread water until Emeka Okafor returns or the Wizards make a panic trade. Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards brass were probably aware of the sheer drop off in talent should Okafor not be ready to start the season, but there is a notable difference in knowing a thing (man, our rebounding might suffer without the big fella in the middle) and the cold harsh reality of watching Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely step into the void.
For Seraphin, Okafor’s injury moves the timetable up on his development once again. With the big man healthy, Seraphin was looking forward to another year of developing his game and defensive ability under Randy Wittman and eschewing the bad habits he picked up during the tyranny of the old regime. Instead Seraphin now finds himself firmly established as the first big man off the bench and more frighteningly could be the Wizards starting center in a month if Nene picks up one his now traditional dings or dents.
How awful would that be? Actually, not as bad as one would be
led to believe. For all the attention that Seraphin receives for his #KevinSeraphinLife hashtag, Instagram account, and his preponderance of JaVale McGee “throwback moments” (bringing the ball down the court, ill-advised passes), Seraphin is a different breed of player than the Wizards of the past. For one, he has been in Randy Wittman’s doghouse every season and has worked steadily on a certain facet of his game to earn his way out of it. Part of that is because Wittman knows that Seraphin can handle the criticism, the other part is that Seraphin honestly appears to want to become a better basketball player despite his limited ceiling. He shows up in shape (amazing), works on what his coaches want him to works on (astounding) and doesn’t flip out when given the quick hook after a boneheaded play. Will the Wizards be decent if Seraphin ends up the starting center? Highly doubtful. But a reined-in Seraphin playing with the starting unit could see the Wizards play .500 ball until a better option emerges.
Kevin Seraphin suited up for the Wizards 79 times last season. Comparative to the rest of the team, Seraphin was the picture of health. However, over the course of those 79 games (eight of which he started) Seraphin logged double-digit rebound numbers only four times. For a player who was drafted primarily to give the Wizards some meat around the basket (and who proudly pounded his fist into his hand when asked what he could bring to the Wizards after being drafted), those numbers are astoundingly low. Even more shocking is that there were many nights where Seraphin’s offensive rebound total outstripped his defensive total at a rate of 2:1. Plus, there’s also Seraphin’s maddening inability to get to the free throw line.
Several factors could account for this output from the Wizards third big. The first is that the Wizards began to gradually slide Seraphin into the 4/5 slot to work alongside Nene or Okafor as the situation allowed. On the defensive end, Okafor sucked up many of the defensive rebounds that Seraphin would have otherwise taken himself. The offensive rebounds can be accounted for when playing alongside Nene and the Brazilian’s penchant for shooting 15 footers.
Regardless, if the Wizards are to stand a chance at remaining competitive this season, Seraphin is going to have to dedicate himself to getting boards rather than getting his on the offensive end. Like many Wizards big men before him (Blatche, McGee), Seraphin has become enamored with his offensive game at the expense of playing in a way which would most benefit the team. Whether that particular path can be corrected remains to be seen.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.
One has to take a step back and remember that Kevin Seraphin is only 23 years old and has not been playing professional basketball nearly as long as his peers. Despite his age and his lack of experience, he has already come a long way from the completely unpolished piece of muscle that the Wizards drafted 17th in 2010 (via the Kirk Hinrich trade with the Bulls). The key for Seraphin’s improvement this year will be twofold: first he has to unlearn the shot-happy habits he developed as part of Washington’s “bench mob.” Playing two years alongside Jordan Crawford and a revolving door of crappy PGs has not helped dissuade Seraphin from the notion that he needs to get his as soon as he steps on the court, otherwise he might never have the ball touch his hands. Playing with a group of black holes usually leads, in turn, to becoming a black hole yourself. This unfortunate development could be neutered if Seraphin develops a rapport with the newly signed Eric Maynor or receives more time with the starting unit.
Secondly, Seraphin needs to rediscover the feistiness that allowed him access to the league in the first place. On a team with the hyper-competitive John Wall and a revved up Trevor Booker, Seraphin should have no trouble relearning how to throw a few elbows and muscle his way into the paint. The Wizards have for years have paraded out big men who were universally decried as soft for their unwillingness to get down and dirty and the trenches. Seraphin was supposed to rectify that trend. This is the year for the course correction to finally take place.
[For additional reading, see: Summer of #KevinSeraphinLife: Blood, Sweat, Instagram]