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Grading Kevin Seraphin's play for 2014-15 season


Grading Kevin Seraphin's play for 2014-15 season

When focused, Kevin Seraphin can be a force but it's difficult to determine if his issues are between his ears or how he has been used in five seasons by the Wizards. He didn't play much in the postseason because of the tighter rotations but it was his outburst in Game 6 vs. the Atlanta Hawks, with Marcin Gortat rendered useless because of food poisoning, that gave a final glimpse of what kind of player Seraphin can be. There aren't too many big men with his array of moves around the basket in such a powerful body. 

The stats: 6.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 51.3% shooting.

The improvements: Seraphin’s production was up after a dismal 2013-14 and tied a career high with 79 appearances. When he erred, coach Randy Wittman still stuck with him. Seraphin was in better shape (and missed fewer games), more disciplined with his position defense, avoided cheap fouls and made better reads with the ball. He wasn’t relied on as much during the postseason and didn’t have as much of an impact as he fell behind Drew Gooden in the rotation because of their small-ball opponents in the Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks.

The next step: Seraphin has to show he can play well for prolonged minutes. No one knows exactly how that will turn out given how sketchy his playing time has been in Washington. He has made his share of mental errors, including in the playoffs when he was inserted during a game, had a play run for him and shot an airball and compounded it with a turnover on the next possession. But Seraphin can score in various ways with his jump hooks, mid-range jump shots and counter moves in the low post.

2014-15 grade: B.

2015-16 outlook: Seraphin will more than likely be out of D.C. He is an unrestricted free agent and wants an opportunity to play more and compete for the starting job. He won’t get that here, where Marcin Gortat is locked in as the starter, unless there’s a drastic roster overhaul. In the open market, he'll command more than the $3.9 million he made in his final season here. The Minnesota Timberwolves tried to poach him from the Wizards at the trade deadline.


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Wizards hope meeting with stars John Wall and Bradley Beal can get Beal going

Wizards hope meeting with stars John Wall and Bradley Beal can get Beal going

With an 0-2 deficit in their first round playoff series against the Raptors, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks called a meeting once his team returned to Washington with his two All-Star players. Brooks met with John Wall and Bradley Beal, hoping to solve an issue that plagued them particularly in Game 2, a blowout loss.

Brooks is intent on getting more out of Beal offensively and since Wall is the quarterback of their offense, it made sense to have him present. After Beal scored nine points and shot just 3-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from three, it is clear to Brooks that the Wizards need more to climb back in this series.

"We need to have Brad play well. It's no secret that you need your best players to step up and play well," Brooks said.

Both Brooks and Wall, who each spoke after Thursday's practice, said Beal needs to be more assertive in the offense. Beal averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors through four regular season games and Wall did not play in any of them. In theory, things should be easier for him now with another star player drawing attention.

That has not been the case, however. Beal is averaging 14.0 points through two games while shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three. 

Even if his shot isn't falling, the Wizards want Beal to force the issue.

"I feel like I tell him at times that he needs to be more aggressive. Be more aggressive and look for your shot," Wall said. "He even says it that he has to be more aggressive himself. Even if he's missing or making shots. That's how he's been all season. We need that same type of player, to be aggressive and get at least 20 shots or more per game. That's when our team is probably at our best."

Beal has been limited to 14 shots per game by the Raptors when he averaged 18.1 during the regular season. Wall said he and Beal often talk within games about how Beal would like to be set up and the meeting with Brooks involved some of that dialogue.

While Beal's struggles stand out, the same could be said for Otto Porter, the Wizards' third-leading scorer. Porter was held to 12 points in Game 2 and did not attempt a single three-pointer. For a guy who finished third in the NBA in three-point percentage (44.1), that is difficult to justify.

Like Beal, the Wizards need Porter to impose his will a bit more and according to Brooks, the right lower leg strain he suffered late in the regular season is not to blame.

"He's 100 percent healthy," Brooks said. "It's always been a little bit of a problem. We want Otto to be more aggressive. We gotta run some more plays for him and the defense has done a good job on him. We need him to play well."

Like Beal, Porter had success against Toronto in the regular season. He averaged 18.5 points on 59.2 percent shooting, including a 24-point game on March 2. 

The Wizards need Beal and Porter to step up, knowing the series could hinge on if they do.




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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.




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