BOSTON — Kevin Garnett is well known as one of the NBA’s best trash talkers, not to mention one of the league’s best players. The challenge of going up against him didn’t bother Wizards center Kevin Seraphin one bit.
Seraphin, 22, is entering his third season with Washington, and his game has grown by leaps and bounds since his rookie season.
The first adjustment for Seraphin was a language barrier - the center from French Guiana was still learning English his rookie year. The second adjustment was playing behind the talented but goofy JaVale McGee. Now, with savvy veterans like Nene and Emeka Okafor to learn from, Seraphin is playing with more confidence than ever.
He also knows Garnett will be looking to shut him down in round two of Kevin vs. Kevin.
“I score 19 points,” Seraphin said after Wizards practice on Tuesday, referring to the Wizards home opener against Boston on Saturday.
“I know he won’t let me score 19 points again. For me that’s a challenge because I have to do it again.”
With Nene out with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and Okafor struggling in his first two games, Seraphin could be coming off the bench early to spell Okafor, and continue his head-to-head matchup with Garnett.
Seraphin said that Garnett, who is famous for trying to get into opposing players’ heads, didn’t talk too much during the game. But during timeouts, whenever Seraphin would put up a practice shot, Garnett would try to block it.
“Next time, I’ll just put it higher,” Seraphin said with a smile. “He will be ready for me, but I will be ready for him, too.”
One of the major factors that will help the Wizards this season is the ability to play with confidence, coach Randy Wittman believes, especially when facing a team of seasoned veterans who have won a championship.
When talking about the importance of confidence, Wittman said Seraphin was a prime example.
“Kevin his first year played with zero confidence,” Wittman said. “[He] couldn’t catch the ball, couldn’t dribble the ball, couldn’t shoot the ball because he didn’t have any confidence and now look at him. Thats strictly a lot just to do with confidence.”
Seraphin dazzled the crowd with his jumpers and hook shots on Saturday – none of which surprised his teammates or his coach.
“He would do those things in practice,” Wittman said. “He did those same kinds of things – jump hooks, 10-12 foot jump shots. He had a nice touch, but in the game he had no confidence and he looked like he was lost.”
“Thats the perfect example and it doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or you’re a 12 year man. If you’re out there with no confidence you’re not going to do very many good things.”
It’s safe to say that when the thought of a rematch with Kevin Garnett brings a smile to your face, confidence is no longer a problem.
“It does give me some more motivation to keep doing it,” Seraphin said. “That game was a good game and now I have to keep doing it. There are 80 games left and I have to prove I can be consistent and play like that all the time.”