Wizards player evaluations for ‘08-09 continue, up eighth is Andray Blatche. My thoughts are below, you can check on the full report on Bullets Forever.
DMX’s “Here We Go Again,” is the first song that plays in my head when contemplating Andray Blatche. Of course, DMX’s career went the way of the gutter with a litany of charges, crack-induced federal agent impersonating, car-jacking attempts at JFK, and jail time. Evidently Earl Simmons is trying to find the lord now. Andray has certainly been through the fire, but people are still waiting for his first coming, much less a resurrection.
Sure, I’m skeptical of ‘Dray, but no more than the next guy, or the guy after him, or the dozens in line after him. I really want Blatche to succeed. Honestly.The success of the Wizards depends on several aspects, and he is very high on the prioritized list.
We’ve seen enough glimpses of ‘dream’ Andray that his occasional dazzling pass induces drooling from Wizards fans like Pavlov’s bell. But we’ve also been conditioned to know than an unforced turnover, or an ill-advised jumper early in the shot clock, will quickly follow as backwards steps negating anything he does positive.
Blatche has a skill set like no other, and maybe that’s the problem. He tries to do too much. The Wizards have more depth than ever before, and obviously diverse abilities to boot. On defense, Andray needs to concentrate on the basics: blocking shots without gambling and fouling (at least his fouls/36 mins dropped a whole unit from 07-08 to 08-09 — 5.5 to 4.5), and staying in front of his man, securing defensive boards. Learning some communication from Brendan Haywood wouldn’t hurt either.
On offense, Blatche MUST stop trying to be a point forward (just under half (58) of his 117 turnovers came from ball handling errors). The Wizards have an abundance of guards, all of whom can push the ball better than Blatche. He should be using those quick, athletic big man skills to bust his butt up the court in transition without the rock.
And once past half-court, Blatche’s problem stems from thinking he’s Kevin Garnett or David West from the perimeter.
Did You Know …?
- In 08-09, 57% of Blatche’s shots were jumpers (up from 47% in 07-08), and only 44% of them were assisted upon (down from 53% the year before).
- To put it in perspective:
- 57% of Tim Duncan‘s shots were also jumpers, but at least 49% of them were assisted upon. Also, Andray Blatche is no Tim Duncan (especially considering Duncan’s 43.4 eFG% on jumpers compared to Blatche’s 35.6%).
- 59% of Brandon Bass‘ FG attempts were jumpers … but a whopping 71% of his were assisted upon. And his 44.5 eFG% on jumpers puts Blatche to shame.
No one minds Andray shooting the occasional jumper, his touch has proven to be adequately capable. But he should never have an unchecked green light to jack some awkward wide-stance shot after he tries to take his man off two dribbles that go nowhere. His jump shooting is best left being created by guard penetration, hence his jumpers attempted percentage needs to be below 40%, and more than 65% of those need to be assisted upon. By all means, if Blatche has a lane against an immobile, inferior defender, take him to the rack. Just try to draw fouls on more than 10.8% of your shots. Heck, even Dominic McGuire was able to draw fouls on 12.9% of his attempts.
Blatche needs to keep his game and his efforts simple … on and off the court. He just turned 23 on August 22nd, and having a low key birthday celebration (at least in terms of internet coverage) in comparison to last year is a start. Perhaps this will lead to less partying before the season is over as well. But honestly, who cares what Andray does off the court, as long as he’s not getting arrested. Caron Butler is able to balance an active social life with TCOB on the hardwood.
The team doesn’t necessarily need Blatche to fill up the stat sheet every night. They need concentration and a consistent effort level, at least 90% of the time (which, perhaps is what we’ll get if he aims for 110%). Do the big man things that the Wizards will so desperately need, and only use guard skills when the opportunity presents itself. Do not force the issue. As soon as Andray lets the game come to him, which might be easier now that the ‘Blatche At Small Forward’ Experiment seems highly unlikely, he will satisfy everyone’s desire for him to be a solid contributor throughout the season.