Okafor-Seraphin on-court pairing in the works?

Okafor-Seraphin on-court pairing in the works?
November 13, 2012, 1:00 pm
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When the Wizards acquired Emeka Okafor during the offseason, one question that immediately sprung up was how coach Randy Wittman would deploy his new big man. More specifically, how would Okafor's limited offensive range blend with the scoring gifts offered by Nene and Kevin Seraphin.

For a variety of reasons, that question remain unanswered and not simply because the injured Nene has yet to play.

Rather than using his top two interior options together, Wittman has kept Okafor primarily with the starters, Seraphin as part of the second unit. Considering the winless Wizards (0-5) are searching for a path to victory lane, one wonders if a rotation change involving the pair is in the works.

"That’s a coach’s decision," Seraphin said following Monday's practice before the team flew to Charlotte for Tuesday's game against the Bobcats. "Today we played together. Now the coach has to make that decision."

Part of the preseason intrigue about using the bigs involved Okafor's perceived lack of offensive range. The eight-year veteran lacks the shooting touch offered by Seraphin and Nene and thus works primarily within proximity of the basket. That pushes Washington's power forward out toward the high post, a spot Seraphin and Nene can operate with ease, but also potentially limits their back to the basket touches.

The Pacers obviously had a similar scouting report in Saturday's matchup, leaving Okafor wide open repeatedly whenever he stepped outside the lane. Considering that in the Washington's previous four games he clanked those types of shots far more often than he made them, one cannot blame Indiana for the decision.

In this case, the 30-year-old took advantage by knocking down 3 of 6 attempts from 16 feet and beyond after making only 1 of 6 from that range in the previous four games, according to basketball-reference.com. Okafor also added three more buckets from 10-15 feet en route to finishing with a season-high 17 points.

"He can, as he’s proven, he can make the 15-foot jump shot, so it’s not like you have to have two bigs down there together," Wittman said. "You’re always worrisome when you have two bigs like that. You’ve got to play opposite each other, be able to play opposite and Emeka is comfortable with that 15-foot jumper if they did try to pack it in that way."

Wittman said he has preferred using perimeter types with Okafor, including Chris Singleton, a pairing that allows Washington to spread the floor offensively. In the right matchup, the coach said he's ready to pull the big man combo trigger.

"Now, obviously, if that pertains to being beat up on the inside and you have to maybe, look at that, I wouldn’t hesitate to do that," Wittman said.

The Bobcats start two 7-footers in ex-Wizard Brendan Haywood and Byron Mullens, though neither are considered rough and tumble types; more than half of Mullens 62 field goal attempts have come from beyond the 3-point line. Therefore, while this particular matchup does not scream for an Okafor-Seraphin pairing, the rising third-year center sees the benefits.

Washington's third-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game, Seraphin has tallied only six total over the last two contests as defenses have made making stopping him a larger part of their game plans.

"Now you got two big men who can post up," Seraphin said. "That would be fun. That would be more difficult for the defense. You have to focus on me, you have to focus on him at the same time because we both can make good plays. That would be different. I don’t know. We’ll see."


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