Note: This is the latest installment in a ten-part series on the top storylines facing the Wizards this season. Check CSNwashington.com daily for additional entries.
Kevin Seraphin probably thought he was going to be penciled in as the Wizards' starting power forward this year after his improved play late last season. That was until the team went out and traded for Emeka Okafor, likely moving Seraphin back to the bench.
Seraphin showed immense improvement, averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds in 21 starts to close out the season. Wins over quality teams were rare last year for the Wizards but in one marquee victory over the L.A. Lakers in March, Seraphin was unstoppable, scoring 14 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. It was his breakout game.
Two years ago, Seraphin was very limited offensively and looked lost in his rookie season. But over the last few months of last season he steadily improved and showed off a variety of low-post moves that had defenders on their heels.
The 6'-9" Seraphin averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds in April, including a career-high 24 points and 13 boards in a win over Orlando. He followed that up with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks in a win at Chicago. Seraphin closed out the season with 16 straight games in which he scored in double figures.
"We saw great progress in Kevin last year," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "He was able to go out the second half of the year and play with confidence. You can't play at this level without confidence, but Kevin made great strides."
Seraphin was probably the most improved player in the NBA in the second half of last season and he hopes to continue his improvement -- but as a backup to start the season. Okafor for now is the starting power forward but if Seraphin continues to improve like he did last year, the team will have to get him quality minutes.
As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.
Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.
"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."
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"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."
Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.
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Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.
"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.
Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.
Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.
You can listen to the episode right here:
You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!