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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 12/16/2010

Unheralded "other two" rookies thrust into spotlight

By Michael Lee

We're going to need you, Kevin. (AP Photo)


Possibly down one first-round pick, the Wizards will have to rely on the unheralded other two on Thursday as they prepare to face the New Jersey Nets. With John Wall expected to miss his ninth game of the season with right knee tendinitis, rookie big men Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin will have to change roles from being wide-eyed observers to wide-eyed contributors with the Wizards' depleted in the front court.

Andray Blatche is still limping with a sore left knee and Yi Jianlian will miss the next two to four weeks after suffering a sprained right medial collateral ligament in the Wizards' 103-89 loss to Los Angeles Lakers.

"It's a good bit of pressure with our main guy going down and his backup going down. At the same time, other bigs got to step up," said Booker, who will likely get his second start of his season at power forward. "That's what we're here for, because if anybody goes down, we've got to be ready."

Booker and Seraphin performed well on Tuesday against the Lakers, as they combined to score 15 points, grab 18 rebounds and six fouls against a championship-tested front line of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. When the Wizards lost to Lakers last week at Staples Center, the duo combined for 16 points, six rebounds and 10 fouls, when Coach Flip Saunders decided to give them some playing time after growing dissatisfied with the play of JaVale McGee and Yi. Saunders doesn't have much choice now.

"Yeah. I play good. I feel good now. I have to keep going," Seraphin said. "I know with Yi and Andray, now I know I get more minutes. Now I've got to improve. I've got to bring some things. I have to be good now."

Booker and Seraphin are both limited offensively, and still struggle to grasp Saunders's system, but they compensate for their lack of skill and knowledge with hustle and hard play.


Throw it down, big man. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Their physical styles are a stark contrast to Blatche, Yi and McGee, and earned them starting jobs in Sacramento. But they seemed ill-prepared for the spotlight, as the Kings jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Veterans Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich looked completely frustrated as Booker and Seraphin were in the wrong spots on both ends of the floor. Arenas cursed at Booker when Booker failed to make a proper cut to the basket, then threw up his hands and angrily walked away.

"The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," Booker said. "I've been getting a good amount of playing time recently. I can probably adjust quicker. I think I'm getting a better feel for it right now and I think it's showing."

Booker had a career-high nine rebounds on Tuesday against the Lakers, but he has grown more confident in offense, as he has scored at least nine points in three of his past five games, including a career-high 14 points in Los Angeles. He has contributed with athletic dunks and putbacks, but realizes that he provides most on the defensive end, where mixes it up and doesn't spare his fouls. With more minutes coming, Booker realizes he may have to be more judicious with his hacks. "I'm not going to say I'm going to play differently," he said. "I'm still going to play as aggressive. I just got to pick and choose when I go after certain things."

Seraphin has no problem throwing around his 275-pound body and leaning on opposing big men, such as Dwight Howard. He will have to do more of the same against New Jersey's Brook Lopez.

"Kevin has definitely, can rebound the ball, that's something that we lack, sets great screens, and I thought his two best games have been against the Lakers, which is pretty good," Saunders said. "He's physical. Gasol is so long and big, if he can move guys and get in space, he gets in the paint and can either score or pass, whereas against Kevin, at least a little bit, he gave more resistance and couldn't get into the paint as much."

By Michael Lee  | December 16, 2010; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker  
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (6-17) at Nets (6-19)

Comments

Seems like it's only a matter of time before Blatche gets that knee scoped.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

There is no flow on offense with this team because the guards are taking 90% of the shots. How can the forwards and centers develop any consistency when they never have any plays called for them? Where does Arenas get off criticizing anyone about how they are playing when he is shooting 35% from the floor, can't guard anyone, and most likely leads the league in turnovers per ratio of minutes played for guards?????

Posted by: dandyhuffman | December 16, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Booker and Seraphin are both limited offensively..."

That is a lazy-a$$ comparison.

I'd agree that Booker is limited offensively in the fact that he can't create his own shot. BUT from what I've seen the guy cleans up scraps and finishes consistently around the rim better than any frontcourt contributor we've had in a long time...let alone a rookie. The guy is a baller, and I think will be a solid to dang-good forward for this team.

Seraphin, on the otherhand, is a trainwreck on offense. He cannot finish around the basket, rushes his shot, and even bungles lightley contested put back attempts. Aside from jarring picks, and snagging down offensive boards, he's non-existent offensively. That said, I thin he's got the potential, with the right coaching to close the gap and turn his current, limited skillset into points--so I'm certainly real high on this kid too.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | December 16, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Seems like it's only a matter of time before Blatche gets that knee scoped.

Just as he was finally starting to look a little quicker, now he's on his ass again for 10 days or whatever. Perhaps he'll be in game shape sometime around February now.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Don't even care what happends with blatche. For this team I prefer Booker start. Blatche is a streaky shooter at PF when he should be on the glass and finishing strong at the basket.Frustrating to watch.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 16, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"How can the forwards and centers develop any consistency when they never have any plays called for them?"

They can't.

I've said it time and time again, there is nobody coaching the big-men on this team. The guards have Cassell, but the bigs have to develope on thier own.

Take McGee for example. He learned more in a few weeks with team USA then he did in three years with the Wiz. He brought that confidence with him to start the season and played very well. 2 months later and Flip has ruined him for the rest of the year.

Flip needs to go.

"Don't even care what happends with blatche. For this team I prefer Booker start. Blatche is a streaky shooter at PF when he should be on the glass and finishing strong at the basket.Frustrating to watch."

Agree 100%. He just a street baller collecting a big check. Lame.

Posted by: rmcazz | December 16, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Fully one-quarter of NBA teams are money losers. The Wizards are just plain TOTAL losers. Never a championship with that inane name. But we've stated that many times.
None of the "players" discussed above have the ability of a champion.

But realistically, Honolulu could use an NBA franchise. If not now, when?

Posted by: kinkysr | December 16, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I for one like watching these two guys, even if I'm not always sure it's basketball they're playing. Part of it is not expecting too much from inexperienced players. Even the most deranged fan wouldn't suggest calling many plays for Seraphin -- he'd probably put the ball in the wrong basket. Knocking opponents to the floor as he did so. But he'd be having fun.

Remember all the talk when he was drafted about those 'soft' French League big men?

NBA basketball is supposed to be fun to watch -- that's what all those rule changes were for -- and it is, at least some of the time when Booker and Seraphin are on the floor.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"How can the forwards and centers develop any consistency when they never have any plays called for them?"

What play would you call for Javale? Kevin? Besides the occasional oop, of course.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Never a championship with that inane name. But we've stated that many times."

Great comment. Change the name, size the rings, clean out the trophy case.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

TS35 said:

"Yeah. I clearly misread that one. Unless Gee is carving them out with the Andy DuFrane's geologist hammer from Shawshank Redemption. Give him 40 more years and a Raquel Welch poster and he'll be playing again.

Forgive me for being a bit off topic, but I wanted to offer kudos to TS35 for that bit of prose. Simply hilarious! Thank you.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 16, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

In regards to Seraphin, I was one of those that questioned the logic of drafting a 19 year old big man from the French leagues while passing up on several bigs that were coming out of college.

The basis for my complaint stemmed from the description of Seraphin being "raw" and a "project".

Being a fan of this team, "raw" and "project" means: Pecherov, Blatche, Peter John Ramos and McGee.

Compared to that group Seraphin isn't a project, he's a rookie. He is ahead of that entire group in terms of instincts and understanding of playing in the post.

Posted by: bozomoeman | December 16, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"The more you play, the quicker the game comes to you," Booker said.

Really?

Why did this organization have AB, JM and NY on the bench while AJ, BTH and CB played 40 mins a game during the Etaps era then?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 16, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Seraphin reached a career milestone against the Lakers, now has more career points (26) than fouls (25).

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Say what you will about Seraphin's offensive limitations, but I give him credit for knowing his limits and playing within them. That's something that Blatche and McGee still have trouble with.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 16, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't even care what happends with blatche. For this team I prefer Booker start. Posted by: Wizbullets88

Booker is too small to start, and it's hard to play him with a roaming center like McGee. The lanes become huge.

What play would you call for Javale? Kevin? Besides the occasional oop, of course. Posted by: Samson151

I kind of agree with this, but the PG play on this team leaves a lot to be desired. Last year Livingston and AB were hooking up on pick and rolls quite well. This year Hinrich is the only PG that can execute one, and he seems limited to doing it with a bounce pass. Wall's a rook, it's expected that he will be relying on his speed to make plays, but Arenas offers almost nothing at the point. Truth About It had a clip the other day where he said, "In my heyday I didn't have picks and rolls. Mine was just beating everyone off the dribble." It's sort of jaw dropping that it's still not a part of his skill set considering the surgeries and years missed.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 16, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Seraphin AKA "La Bruise" is the first guy this team has had since Ben Wallace to remind Bruise Brothers days.

Booker has actually got a nice shot and really knows how to use the rim to protect the ball from taller shotblockers. He's also got really quick feet for a guy his size. I think he eventually ends up playing more small forward. He's a good scorer, he's just not gotten confident in his ability at this level yet.

Blatche's season is so very typical of a guy that spent a summer in a walking boot. He's struggled to get in game shape and then winds up hurt.

Flip's going to have to put Wall on the shelf til the rookie gets fully healthy, and quit trotting him out there with nagging injuries. The goal this year is player development, not win totals. Wall isn't going to develop playing hurt.

Been saying this since I first saw him, McGee isn't a center. He's an exceptionally long forward, his strength is his mobility for a guy that long. He's not going to rebound or battle for post position in a traditional manner.

Best comparison I can make is he's a 7'1" Dennis Rodman, he needs someone to teach him to anticipate where the ball is going and to go get it. That's how Worm rebounded, he was one of the best "out of his area rebounders" I've seen.

McGee already is a good offensive rebounder because he rebounds on instinct. He needs to be taught to rely on those insticts more at the defensive end...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | December 16, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Say what you will about Seraphin's offensive limitations, but I give him credit for knowing his limits and playing within them.

He's shooting 30%.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"He's shooting 30%."

So? He's played 9 games and taken a total of 33 shots, almost all of them deep in the paint, so it's not like he's firing it up. Which, of course, is my point.

Nice try, though.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 16, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

So? He's played 9 games and taken a total of 33 shots, almost all of them deep in the paint, so it's not like he's firing it up.

He's taken 33 shots in 108mins, that is a fair clip. Nice try though.

I just wasn't sure why a guy "playing within himself" would be shooting 30%. If he needs to play outside himself to get his FG% up...I'm all for it.

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Booker is too small to start, and it's hard to play him with a roaming center like McGee. The lanes become huge.

How about playing Booker at 3 alongside Seraphin and Mcgee? Lord knows we have seen enough smallball to last a lifteime, no harm in trying to go big

Posted by: divi3 | December 16, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Every NBA team has a "project" or two on its roster. Unfortunately, the Wizards are so banged up that our projects are gonna be starters for the foreseeable future.

Regarding the Blatche bashing: Is 'out-of-shape' Andray really that less productive than the always in shape Antawn Jamison? AJ gave you 20/10 most nights while giving up 20/10 to whomever he was guarding. Jamison couldn't guard Small Forwards or Power Forwards. Lazy or not, Blatche is the best big that we have. Booker brings energy, but he is too short. Kevin has no offense. Yi is even less physical than Blatche. McGee is all "sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The Wizards better hope that Dray gets well...soon.

Posted by: musicmanjr | December 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

How many have we lost in a row i've lost count, Nets win by 10+ book it.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"no harm in trying to go bigPosted by: divi3"

LOL probably not much good in it, either.

I don't see any reason Booker can't play defense against guys like Luol Deng. Maybe not against the outside jumpshooting SFs, however.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"How can the forwards and centers develop any consistency when they never have any plays called for them?"

What play would you call for Javale? Kevin? Besides the occasional oop, of course.

Posted by: Samson151

The one 'play' or aspect of a play I have never seen them run and have been waiting for is a designed 'oop' play for McGee.

Often McGee comes up top to set a screen(ish) for the PG. As he's doing that, why not have someone back-screen McGee's man and have McGee go hard to the hoop for the -Oop? I've seen teams run it against the Wiz, but I can't remember the Wiz ever doing it.

Posted by: ts35 | December 16, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Don't even care what happends with blatche. For this team I prefer Booker start. Blatche is a streaky shooter at PF when he should be on the glass and finishing strong at the basket.Frustrating to watch.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 16, 2010 1:58 PM |


Absolutely right. I would rather watch Booker and Seraphin play because I think they play harder period. They provide a consistent Defensive effort, rebounds, set picks foul hard.

Posted by: bonggong | December 16, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

How about playing Booker at 3 alongside Seraphin and Mcgee? Lord knows we have seen enough smallball to last a lifteime, no harm in trying to go big Posted by: divi3

Your lineup can't score, and it's not really "small ball" when the Wizards play a SG that's a couple of inches shorter than the norm.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 16, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Any Ndiaye sightings?

Posted by: audacitea | December 16, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

When this season started, there was hope of slipping into the 8th playoff spot, if Arenas could accept being Ray Allen to Wall's Rondo. It did not happen. Seraphin has not been playing b-ball for very long. He stinks now, but unlike US 19-yr-olds (who start playing in elementary school), that does not mean he will always stink. I say play him and find out if he can be another Mahorn or Ruland. If he doesn't get better, what have we lost?

Posted by: kauf5413 | December 16, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

" find out if he can be another Mahorn or Ruland. If he doesn't get better, what have we lost?Posted by: kauf5413"

He's a lot more athletic than either of those guys. But less skilled. Should be patient with the guy, playing him some, sitting him some.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

"Lazy or not, Blatche is the best big that we have."

Certainly the only one you could run a chunk of interior plays through. Hopefully that won't always be the case.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 16, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

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