Skilled big men have become a rarity in the NBA, especially for rebuilding teams which are trying to develop their younger players into serviceable forwards and centers.
Unlike many teams around the league which are starting to feature smaller lineups, the Wizards have established a legitimate frontcourt with their two veteran big men, Nene and Emeka Okafor. Even with issues defending smaller lineups, Washington has been able to overwhelm opposing frontcourts with their two big men out front, which may be the primary reason the Wizards are one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Unfortunately, Nene has been dealing with a series of injuries which will likely limit his time on the court for the rest of his career, and Emeka Okafor’s time in the nation’s capital could possibly be coming to an end, since he has just one year left on his contract.
So, where do the Wizards go from here?
Some of the best NBA teams in the league have a legitimate big man, which they utilize for a large part of their success on both sides of the floor. Much like the Wizards, the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers are both very good defensive teams which tend to struggle offensively. They’re both home to two of the best big men in the league, Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert. Nene and Emeka Okafor might not be the answer for the future, so Washington has to find a way to match up with the rest of the league.
With that said, the Wizards don’t have very many options. Their salary cap situation is in a state of flux, leaving them with zero room to sign another decent big man. The NBA Draft is right around the corner, but all signs point to the Wizards drafting Georgetown’s Otto Porter with the third overall pick. After all, if Washington wants to succeed in the future, they must take the best player available. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many big men in this years draft worth taking that high in the lottery.
Washington does have a bit of a logjam with Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton, but virtually all of them have regressed this past season. In all honesty, none of the guys I mentioned have a high enough ceiling to continue investing in them. Booker, Vesely and Singleton all have to develop exponentially if they want to have a decent career in the NBA.
That leaves us with Kevin Seraphin.
Seraphin has shown great development throughout his career, but his inconsistency caused him to drop off a bit this past season. After the Wizards shipped JaVale McGee to Denver, Kevin Seraphin’s minutes inevitably grew, and he consequently made the most out his playing time. Needless to say, Seraphin took advantage of his size, patenting a mini-hook which has since become his go-to move in the post. Unlike many developing big men in the NBA, Seraphin has the size and skill to become an effective player. His soft touch around the basket, ability to hit face up jump shots, and array of moves in the post, is unheard of in today’s NBA, especially for raw players trying to make a name for themselves.
Unfortunately, other NBA teams took note of Seraphin’s development throughout the course of his young career in Washington. Opposing teams double teamed Seraphin, causing his turnover rate to grow to the point where having him on the court would make him and offensive liability.
It became evident that Seraphin hadn’t figured out how to deal with double teams, which caused his shot selection to continuously worsen. Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman, had no choice but to pull Seraphin out of the rotation, putting him in the doghouse for several weeks, which not only damaged his productivity but his confidence was basically destroyed.
As someone who is extremely critical of Kevin Seraphin, I have to give him credit for continuously willing to grow his skill-set. Many players take a few months off basketball during the off-season, but Kevin Seraphin got right back into work with Washington’s staff at the Verizon Center. In fact, Seraphin was seen working out with some of the potential NBA Draft prospects this past week, which obviously shows his great work ethic.
Having a legitimate big man is essential in the NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference, where teams are able to take advantage of their All-Star forwards and centers.
Washington doesn’t have very many options or the financial flexibility, so it’s very important for them to continue developing Kevin Seraphin. After all, he’s the only one who’s shown some sort of ability amongst Washington’s other big men.