Friday January 21, 2011 2:32 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
WIZARDS PAGE WIZARDS VIDEO
If you're like me and you have been wondering why first-round draft picks Trevor Booker and Kevin Saraphin barely see the court for the Wizards -- even though the team is "rebuilding" and has a 12-28 record -- fear not: They may be getting some playing time soon. With 8 games in the next 11 days starting with Phoenix Friday night, Wizards' coach Flip Saunders told me that the two will get more run with the bundle of games ahead.
"This will be a good test for them," Saunders said. "They will play now. There will be stretches where they will play. We are going to need fresh legs so now they are going to have an opportunity to get some time.
Minutes have been far and few between for both Saraphin and Booker in their rookie campaigns.
The 21-year-old Saraphin was selected number 17 overall from a French Pro League and he has seen spot action this season, averaging about 9 minutes and 2 points and 2 rebounds in only 18 games. At 6'9" and 260 pounds, Saraphin is a big body and can bang down low but has shown lapses when rebounding the basketball, specifically at the defensive end. It's obvious that Saraphin has a long way to go on the offensive end, as he is very raw with a jump shot that needs major refinery.
"There is no question that Kevin is a lot further along than where we'd thought he'd be at this point," Saunders said. "We thought he'd be in the NBDL a lot and he's not." Saunders also intimated that the language barrier has limited Saraphin's playing time. "It's not just a young player coming in but he's dealing with learning the language and communicating on the floor which isn't quite that easy."
For the 21st overall pick in the 23-year-old Booker, it's the barrier of teammates playing the same power forward position that is preventing him from getting more playing time according to Saunders.
"If Andray (Blatche) is playing well and if Yi is playing well it's tough for him to get those minutes right now and that's why with his development he will have to learn how to play a small forward position."
Booker was a power forward in college but at 6'8" is undersized for the NBA power forward spot. Saunders said that transitional switch will start this summer. "That's an adjustment that he will have to make but its not something that's easy to make as afar as over a season," Saunders said.
"I think these guys are exactly where we thought they'd be."