- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kevin Seraphin’s potency is matched by frustration from his fluctuating performances. When he enters to replace Marcin Gortat, the world of possibilities — good and bad — move onto the floor with him. His stint could be a foul-plagued three minutes sprinkled with late rotations and predetermined offensive moves. Or, it could be a demolition of other interior players. He has the momentum of a brake-less dump truck once into the game. Where that push brings him, and the Wizards, varies.

During his Tuesday night second-half mangling of the world champion San Antonio Spurs, Seraphin pulled rebounds from others. He blocked shots, scored off the glass, turned down mediocre shots for better ones. Even made a pass on the break for an assist.

His 17-point, eight-rebound evening against the Spurs during the Wizards’ 101-93 win Tuesday night at Verizon Center hangs as what could be for the explosive big man from France nicknamed “Beast” by his teammates. He put together a season high in points and on just eight shots and in 19:30 of playing time.

“This is another building block for him, hopefully,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “Now, it’s consistency of play like that. That’s the main thing of anybody in the league, it’s not just Kevin. To take that next step, it’s now night in, night out. I’m not thinking about which guy is going to show up. I know who’s going to show up. That’s the next step.”

On the floor much of the night against him were two fellow French nationals, big man Boris Diaw and point guard Tony Parker. Diaw has known Seraphin for about four or five years. He said what he saw in the Verizon Center was not a big surprise. Though, asked if Seraphin, 25, has grown up since he’s known him, Diaw briefly laughed.

“He’s still a big kid,” Diaw said.

SEE ALSO: John Wall scores 25 points as Wizards end 17-game skid with victory over Spurs

Seraphin has a swirl etched into the left side of his hair. He’s a campy sort who has latched onto social media — he learned of the attacks in Paris, where his family lives, via Facebook — and puts out multiple photos of his activities with the hashtag “#Kslife.” Seraphin is often popping photos or shooting quick-hit Vine videos.

In addition to a sparkling evening against the Spurs, his play Sunday during the Wizards’ shellacking in Atlanta was also on-point. That it carried through Tuesday is precisely the kind of sign the Wizards want to see from him. Teammates encourage him, even when exasperated by Seraphin’s mislocated defense. They continue to give him the ball knowing his jump hook is one of the more effective offensive weapons the scoring-challenged team has. They try to drag his potential out.

“We stay on him heavy because we know how good he can be,” Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal said. “Sometimes, he doesn’t even realize how talented he really is. Like I always tell him, ‘I’m going to give you the ball because, in my opinion, nobody can guard you in the post.’ We’re always tough on him because he’s key and essential to the team.”

At practice, Seraphin is constantly working with assistant coach Roy Rogers. Footwork and explosiveness are present and improving. Seraphin’s jump shot is also serviceable. Keeping with the light-hearted life, he likes to make a long post-practice shot from the steps leading up from the practice floor. Seraphin will stand higher than the basket on the steps and about five feet behind the sideline 3-point line, then shoot with one hand. Typically, it only takes him a few attempts to make the shot.

However, his success against San Antonio had nothing to do with tricks or giggles.

“Focus,” Seraphin said. “Stick with it. I was ready to play. Like every night, but, you know, sometimes you just have a night like that when you’re on fire.”

Seraphin’s game log is filled with evidence showing his up-and-down play. He’s scored 30 points on 17 shots in his last two games. The two games prior, he scored six points combined and played only 27 minutes total.

He’s scored 16 points twice this season, but Sunday and Tuesday were the first time he’s scored in double figures in consecutive games. They were also the first time he was in double figures in January. In the five games prior, he scored 21 total points.

Often, Marcin Gortat is counseling Seraphin. When Seraphin walks slump-shouldered to a timeout after not playing well, Gortat is off the bench to talk to him. He just wants Seraphin to slow down.

“That’s the most important thing for him,” Gortat said earlier in the season. “He’s a talented player. He knows how to play basketball. He’s just got to slow down a little bit and go to his strengths. Sometimes, he’s just going 100 mph and that’s why he makes mistakes.

“After when he start rolling, he got to stay focused on the right things. He can get excited and use his hands, use his power to push people around. That’s how he takes himself out of the game, fouling people and actually going back to the bench.”

Seraphin’s fluctuations are not specific to this season. He averaged 9.1 points in the 2012-13 season and followed that with a dismal 4.7 points per game output last season.

This year, he arrived at training camp in better shape. Plus, the Wizards brought in Kris Humphries in the offseason to add heft and depth to their frontline. Humphries put together what is becoming a standard night for him, 10 points and eight rebounds, against the Spurs. Gortat had 11 rebounds. Nene had 10. Seraphin had his sparkling, missing-link line. He completed a potent frontcourt.

For a coach, there are few greater aggravations than inconsistency. Players say Wittman does a good job of talking to them. His criticism is less maniacal yelling and more exasperated sarcasm. At times, Seraphin has had trouble navigating that.

“I think he does a better job,” Beal said. “The two years that I’ve been here, he’s been down. Takes it personal a little bit. We all do it. Especially him because I think everybody is on him the hardest. But, he takes it and accepts it.”

What Seraphin can handle from his coach, teammates and opposing teams is among the keys for the Wizards. How he will do so is unclear. One night it’s luxury, the next dissatisfaction. Against the Spurs, it what was needed to end a 17-game losing streak to one of the league’s premier franchises.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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