The Chicago Bulls drafted Kevin Seraphin for the Wizards, so he never had a chance to be teammates with Joakim Noah. But the two were on the same side last summer, when Seraphin made the surprising rise from a training camp invitee to key contributor to helping the French national team claim second at the European Basketball Championships.
While training with Seraphin in Paris, Noah said he could see that the young big man was extremely talented and capable of being more than just serviceable in the NBA.
“Throughout the whole tournament, not only through the tournament, but during practices, he works extremely hard. A very tough competitor. Very skilled for his size,” Noah said after battling against Seraphin in an NBA game for an extended period of time for the first time in their careers.
Seraphin won his individual battle with Noah, scoring a game-high 21 points with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in the Wizards’ 87-84 win over the Bulls. Noah had six points, 11 rebounds and five blocks and gave Seraphin problems early with his length. Noah forced Seraphin into rushing some shots and putting too much on others and also recorded a block on a short jumper. Seraphin missed 8 of 13 shots in the first half, but he calmed down late, making 5 of 6 in the second half.
“He let the game kind of come to him,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s continuing to blossom and I got to stay on his rear end and not let him get satisfied.”
At one point in the fourth quarter, Maurice Evans went to the foul line and Seraphin line up next to Noah and exchanged some playful trash talk. Seraphin said Noah told him, “You can’t start talking [expletive].”
Seraphin replied, “You already know.”
Seraphin has had at least 21 points and 13 rebounds in two of his last four games, and is averaging 13.5 ponts and 7.1 rebounds in the 20 games since JaVale McGee was traded last month. Noah said he could see the confidence growing in the player who “is kind of like a little brother to me. It’s hard to prove yourself when you’re playing 10 minutes a game. He’s finally getting an opportunity and he’s proving to a lot of people that he can be dominant.”
Seraphin said he still has the Bulls cap that he received on draft night and it rests in his living room. Since he wanted to play for the Wizards, he didn’t view his performance as payback for dealing him. He was just pleased to continue his impressive run. He is the first Washington center since Gheorghe Muresan in 1995-96 to score at least 10 points in 10 straight starts at the position.
“I know it’s difficult to win here and that was a game against Joakim. So I’m glad,” Seraphin said. “Everybody play good. Everybody was there. Everybody competed.”