I’m going to start one more post with Jordan Crawford even though he’s gone because there are some things about his departure that are applicable to the rest of the Wizards roster. If nothing else, he’s not the Washington player who has bounced in and out of coach Randy Wittman’s rotation this season.
Only a few weeks ago Chris Singleton seemed destined to spend the rest of the winter in purgatory. Trevor Booker has had ups and downs and, as of the Toronto game, could be back up again. Jan Vesely, well, okay so he’s mostly been down. But he hasn’t been joined there by Kevin Seraphin until recently.
After averaging 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 44.7 shooting and 24.6 minutes per game in November, December and January, the third-year big man has had a precipitous fall in production in February, averaging just 4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 39.4 percent shooting and 15.1 minutes. Against Toronto on Tuesday, he committed two turnovers in less than four minutes and never saw the floor again.
But rather than sulking and blowing off the media, Seraphin readily admits he’s in a funk and the only one responsible for it.
“It’s really tough, but for me, I think I have to be more focused in the game,” Seraphin said. “I don’t really know. Right now I’m just in a struggle right now so I need to get back, just keeping working more. I’m working more, trying to get my confidence during the practice, working on one-on-one drills, work out every time we have practice, be aggressive, keep going to the boards, that sort of thing. I need to do it to get it back.”
It’s also important to recognize that the Wizards are desperate to get out of the perpetual cycle of development, a scenario in which Seraphin might be allowed to play his way back into form. Like it or not, the fully healthy roster the team has now is the one that team president Ernie Grunfeld built. Wittman’s task is no longer to give young guys minutes; it’s to try and win games.
The upshot for guys like Seraphin, Booker, Singleton and Vesely is that the leash is shorter than it used to be and the improvement has to show in practice first and immediately in the games.
“They understand that,” Wittman said. “They see that. I think everybody does. And it is different; we want it to be different. I don’t want to be coaching a team that, putting out players that don’t deserve to be out there. I think that’s important for anybody’s growth, to understand that you get what you deserve, and cherish that. I think you understand that a little bit more, and it makes you work a little bit harder to understand that if I don’t, just because I’m young they’re going to have to play me. I think this year our guys understand that.”
In Seraphin’s case, disappointing performances often end with heart-to-heart sessions afterward in the locker room, where his locker is next to Nene’s. But there’s only so much that the veteran Brazilian can say to the young protégé who wants to be just like him, and he prefers at times to lead by example.
“It’s hard to put on his mind the way I prepare myself,” Nene said. “It’s how I say, I saw the [next opponent's] last game. I know how they are going to play. I know what I going to do. I know my opening. That is the way he should think. See video and understand how to prepare himself for the game.”
While Seraphin isn’t shy about his frustration, he hasn’t let it get him down. No, I’m not referring to his Harlem Shake video. He has a positive attitude and knows he’s played well in the past – particularly against some of the better big men in the NBA. (He’s sure to be up for going against JaVale McGee tonight.) He also understands that the stakes are higher and more is expected because the Wizards have improved.
“Of course because now the team step up so everybody has to step up, too,” Seraphin said. “I have to step my game up because the team step up. For sure, but I think so, I can. I already prove I can play in a good team so now I just have to get it back. But I think we’re coming back. I do everything for that, been working out. It’s not my first time. I’m a young player so I just come with the time, but now I will do everything for coming back.”