Over the course of the regular season, whether because of injuries or coaching decision, there have been few constants within the Wizards rotation.
Kevin Seraphin was one of the regulars, until he wasn't.
Since January 7, the Wizards are 14-9. The offensive contribution to the winning turnaround stems from the team's commitment to consistent ball movement - with two notable exceptions: Jordan Crawford and Seraphin.
Like the Wizards' center, Crawford was part of the regular playing mix, until he wasn't. Now he's simply gone, traded to the Boston Celtics last week.
Seraphin avoided being moved elsewhere at the NBA trading deadline unless one defines elsewhere as the bench.
Since the notable transaction date, the 6-foot-10 big man has played only seven minutes in three games, none in the last two. His next opportunity comes when Washington hosts the Detroit Pistons Wednesday night (Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m.).
After sitting out the season's opening game with an injury, the third-year center played in 52 straight, averaging exactly 24 minutes per outing in November, December and January. Seraphin tallied double-digit points during that span while his shooting percentage hovered in the mid-40 range.
Then came February, then went Seraphin's production and playing time. Actually, his minutes began dipping as the Wizards became healthier and coach Randy Wittman had more options. First, there were five straight games of fewer than 20 minutes. After the All-Star break, Seraphin played only four minutes against Toronto, then seven against Denver.
Then over the last two games, no run at all. In the nine games he played this month, Seraphin averaged 3.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14 minutes per outing.
This month, Washington sports a 7-4 record.
"It’s tough. It’s really tough, but for me, I think I have to be more focused in the game," Seraphin said last week. "Right now I come – 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."
Perhaps the key mention in that quote is 'be aggressive". When it comes to hoisting up shots, Seraphin has been exactly that. He is averaging 15.8 shot attempts per 36 minutes, the most among current Wizards. Only Crawford's 16.2 ranked higher.
As one might expect from a volume shooter, his assist numbers are paltry (1.2 per 36 minutes). What one would not expect from a wide-bodied offensive threat is that his free throws attempts also fall under the minimal category at just 1.8 per 36 minutes. The possessor of a soft shooting touch, Seraphin frequently settles for mid-range jumpers rather than attacking the rim.
In Nene's first game of the season after missing time with a foot injury, he attempted 10 free throws. During the entire month of November, Seraphin took 12 and in December, just 11.
Since being acquired last year from Denver, the veteran Nene has become something of a sensei to the impressionable Seraphin. Asked how his young pupil can emerge from his funk, the Brazilian big man said, "It’s hard to put on his mind the way I prepare myself. It’s how I say, I saw the 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."
Speaking of video, Grantland.com's NBA writer Zach Lowe recently reported findings from data-tracking cameras several teams in the NBA now implement, including the Wizards. The cameras follow every single movement on the court - players, the ball, the refs - and does in three dimensions, providing greater opportunity for data mining.
Among Lowe's nuggets came this one about Seraphin.
"Hilarious confirmation of the eye test: If Kevin Seraphin gets the ball in the post, he’s shooting — 66 percent of the time, to be exact. He’s dished only six assists from the post in recorded games, and almost never draws fouls."
Again, Seraphin is not the first Wizard to fall out of the playing mix this season. Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely have gone through extended "DNP-CD" stretches. One difference is that those three essentially play the same role. When one receives extended minutes, the other two mostly watch.
In Seraphin's case, he is not being replaced by another center. Now that he has options, Wittman is simply choosing who he wants to use.
"I don’t want to be coaching a team, putting out players that undeservingly/don’t deserve to be out there," Wittman said following a recent practice. "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."