January 7, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards power forward Kevin Seraphin (13) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) in the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Seraphin's Development and Low Hanging Fruit

 I wrote earlier this season on the struggles of Kevin Seraphin. Basically, for those who don’t want to read it, I said the Seraphin hasn’t really regressed from last year, except he is converting 16-23 feet jumpers at a lower percentage while taking more of them. Since then, I found slightly more evidence that this is the case. According to 82games.com, Seraphin this year has the same eFG% from inside the paint as Seraphin last year. The difference, however, the number of shots inside the paint has fallen from 54% of all his shots to 37% of all his shots, or about 17 percentage points. This again reinforces my point that Searphin hasn’t lost his touch around the rim, but that he is just not getting the same number of touches down in the post that he did last year. Seraphin has clearly regressed on defense; his on/off numbers are horrendous. But in this section, I’m planning on just focusing on his offensive inefficiency. And in that respect, I don’t think Kevin Seraphin has regressed as much as it looks like. I think the primary problem that he has run into is that he has been used differently.

The question, therefore, is not why has Seraphin gotten worse; its why has he been used differently? One reason that comes to mind is the Wizards scheme. The Wizards take the most shots per game from 16-23 feet in the league (25.5) but their field goal percentage from that area is a league low (32.9%). I think this definitely contributes to the problem. Without Wall’s speed, Wittman might think that the pick and roll is too easy to defend and might be opting to primarily use the pick and pop instead, where the Wizards big men take a long jumper. The Wizards that have been logging the most time playing either Power Forward or Center have seen the average number of shots per game from 16-23 feet rise an average of 1.5.

But I don’t think this explains the whole story. The increase in the number of jump shots that Seraphin took was 2.5, which was higher than average. I think that the nature of being a good starting Power Forward in the NBA means that you HAVE to take those shots when they are given to you. Take a look at the top 10 Power Forwards in the league in PER who have played as many minutes a game as Seraphin. Seraphin is taking 3.2 16-23 foot jumpers a game and making them at a 36% clip. Most of the Power forwards are taking more of those long jumpers then Seraphin along with taking more of them.

This leads me to the conclusion that Seraphin’s breakout was related to being able to grab metaphorical low hanging fruit. In limited minutes, he sparked offense with his hook shot and midrange game. But when given more minutes, he was unable to translate that to more shots around the rim. While a midrange game and a hook shot are great tools to have, they are not undefendable. As Seraphin gets more minutes, defenses will adjust, and he will have a harder time, getting in a position to take these shots as defenses force him out of his comfort area. The stats back this up. Seraphin has only taken 1.4 more shots from the rim out to 16 feet per game even with his added playing time. Other than his hook shot and midrange jumper, he really has no ways of scoring even when covered by defenders. This lack of diversity , along with the need for spacing when more traditional centers like Okafor and Nene are in the game, led to such a large rise in 16-23 foot jumpers for Seraphin.

So while Seraphin hasn’t regressed, he hasn’t added anything to his game either. This has led to his lack of offensive moves getting exposed with more playing time. But if this is true, it’s actually relatively good news. That’s because Seraphin hasn’t gotten worse, it just means he wasn’t as good as we thought he was coming off the bench last year. He is having trouble adjusting to starters’ minutes.  So while Seraphin’s sudden improvement last year was fun, what we should be on the lookout for now is incremental improvements.  And as the season has gone on, he has improved on a month to month basis. And for now, that’s all I ask.


Tags: Kevin Seraphin Washington Wizards

  • nich obert

    Are you looking at his cumulative numbers from last year? His breakout was pretty much just April, (from 3/15 on, the Hornets win.. he had great games vs LA and Orlando before that, but after the trade is when he locked in) when he shot about 13 times a game in 32 minutes. From 3/25 on, he hit double figures in all but 1 game, shooting 50%. His usage rate is 25% right now, and it was over 20% in all but 1 game from 3/25 onward.

    Spacing.. Well, weirdly, we are shooting 3s better than last year. Just barely, but better. From .320 to .323. We are also 20th in attempts for the 2nd year in a row. And while Nene and Okafor aren’t long range threats, Seraphin played most of his late season minutes with Vesely, James Singleton and Nene last year. Sing was gangbusters in general, really played at an All Star level like he did in 06 with the Clips and 09 with the Mavs, but his minutes were limited and he took 40 shots from 16 and out. Vesely is Vesely (tho Vesely was infinitely better last April than he is now)

    Wall creates open looks, and took a TON of long 2s, but did he really help spacing? Smart defenses gave him the long 2 and packed the paint. The same way they do for Crawford, but Craw converts a much much higher percentage of those long 2s.

    Here’s the rub. Seraphin used to battle for position. He used to try and post guys up when he got it on the block. He took almost 3x as many FTs in April than he did this December.

  • nich obert

    Now it’s like he just wants to shoot ASAP. As if he thinks he gets yanked for not scoring enough. Not for being hideous on defense, putting no effort into rebounding, acting like drawing contact is a bad thing, and every other brand if mental lapse. No! Snakes! Stop pounding your head with both hands! Just listen to Nene ! Pounding your head doesn’t make your brain work better! I swear!

    April 2012:2013, he’s grabbing 3% less available boards, gone from blocking 6% of shots (very solid) to 3, from 3/25 on with Kevin in the game we out scored teams 11 times in 22 games. In 2012-2013? 2 Atlanta games. The first Boston game and the Dallas game. 4 out of 32. And lest we forget, he started in 19 of the last 20 games last year, and has started 7 of 32 this year.. And our bench is better than our starters in damn near every game.

    I ADORE Seraphin.. But facts are facts: his play has contributed significantly more to our awful start than anyone else. With Nene on the floor, we outscore teams by 6 points per 100 as his PER nearly doubles his mans With Seraphin? -12.3 per 100 as his man nearly doubles him.

    It’s too bad. He went from a guy with silky patient hook shots who could bang or show finesse, who allowed the 4th fewest points per pick and roll in the NBA and the 48th fewest points per possession in the NBA to a guy who seems to spend defensive rotations wondering when he’ll next be able to panic chuck a ball at the rim no matter where he receives it- just as long as he can shoot before a double team comes.

    You can’t absolve terrible Randy Wittman. Whose every decision seems to out- clueless his last. But with Seraphin, there is really only one question you need to ask.

    What did Kevin Garnett say to Seraphin in the 2nd Celtics game that may have ruined Seraphins career? It was like he flipped Keveen’s “Blatche” switch. Fitting, since KG crushed Blatche and McGees confidence once upon a time. And Pierce utterly emasculated Singleton last season. Yet another Wizard ruined by the Beantowners.

    “I broke into your house and ate Snakey during halftime. He tasted like Cracklin Oat Bran. Get me a tastier snake. I’m hungry”

  • nich obert

    And continued again:

    Seraphin: lowest Win Shares per 48 of any player with 600 minutes.

    Seraphin: on track to break the single season record for the lowest ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts.

    Get well Kevin (and Jan!) – I really miss you guys looking awesome last April. Please don’t let that be the crescendo of your careers. It was so sweet because it felt like the tip of an iceberg. I’m trying to not get my hopes up too high about just how much Wall means to those 2 guys, and the team in general.