POLL: Should McGee and Blatche Still Start? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

POLL: Should McGee and Blatche Still Start?

Updated: March 4, 2011

Entitlement. It’s a word Flip Saunders has used before when referring to his “starters”, i.e., JaVale McGee and especially Andray Blatche (I’m assuming).

“Do some of our starters — and I don’t know that — do they feel right now that they’re entitled as far as to play 30 or 35 [minutes] no matter how they’re playing?,” said Saunders after his team embarrassingly lost to the Indiana Pacers at home in their first contest after the All-Star break. His inference was on minutes instead of starting versus coming off the bench, but does it make a difference?

Evidently not, as Saunders seemingly still hasn’t found the answer he’s been looking for from his team. And as McGee and Blatche are still trotted out on the floor night in and night out, pretty much no matter what they or the team do. Including the Indiana game, Washington has lost six in a row since the festivities in Los Angeles (seven overall); the only games in which the Wiz Kids were competitive? The matches against Dallas and Miami when Blatche didn’t play, supposedly due to a hip injury. (And no, trying to mount a furious comeback against a mediocre Golden State team at home doesn’t fully count as competitive.)

To the point at hand, why do Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee continue to have starting lineup security? Because their psyche is potentially so fragile that the team must handle them like trying to get a stick of butter to stay on a hot grill for more than 45 seconds? Hint: they are soft and their attention-span and/or effort usually lasts about as long as that stick can stay consistently solid under grill-like temperatures.

Or perhaps it’s because they have more experience. Because they are more heavily invested in by the franchise. Because while looking foolishly inept at applied learning that they will probably make less overall mistakes than rookies such as Trevor Booker or Kevin Seraphin.

The challenge for the Wizards, their coaching staff and management, is what have Blatche and McGee done to deserve an entrenched position in the starting lineup? Because it’s lost upon many why. You tell me.

The franchise, it’s evident, is baffled as to how to properly develop Blatche and McGee. The former, more and more, is becoming a lost cause while the latter, just seems lost.

I’ve said before, Wizards fans, you love you some JaVale McGee. You love his dunks, you love his blocked shots, you love his musk. When this thing gets sorted out, you and him might get an apartment together. But when it comes to basketball, JaVale is Brick Tamlin. He loves lamp. And by lamp, I mean, he loves jumping in the air at pump fakes more than a teenage boy virgin at a porn convention.

What are McGee’s consistent mistakes telling us? To excuse his youth? That he’s not really that dedicated to the game, and that the fables about his pedigree, with a WNBA mom and all, being off the charts is just false advertising? Or that he’d rather just play instead of learn?

What about Blatche? He’s been the same guy since … forever. Dumb luck, perhaps, to be where he is today. Maybe in a different world, a different environment, a different team, he could be special. But as the main guy with a ill-advised contract extension (hindsight being 20/20 here) on a bad team, he is worthless.

The same people who bitch about this year’s Wizards team being bad are likely the same people who would be calling for them to tank under the contingency of mediocre, non-playoff success. But the team’s inability to implicitly state that they are starting Blatche and McGee because they are helping conveys the same inability to say that they aren’t a de facto way of taking for increased lottery combinations, or that other options would neither help nor hurt.

What other choice does Flip Saunders have? Not much. Winning with this roster is like trying to fix a broken leg with a Band-Aid. He puts his best talent out there, he coaches his ass off … but to no avail.

“I know that losses don’t mean there is no progress,” Saunders once told the Washington Post’s Mike Wise. Unfortunately, he’s playing Blatche and McGee like the games matter.

But who am I to criticize and NBA-caliber athlete? Who am I to poke sticks at the judgement of those who are paid to judge? Past being cognizant of what seems to work and what doesn’t … past being able to easily compare the effort of one NBA player to another … I guess, no one. So be no one with me and give your opinion in the poll below.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • poppalaw

    You are doing your one-trick pony act again – Please tell me who the bench is better that is not getting minutes because of Blatche – you want to trash someone, give me a better alternative. Booker is a small forward (whom I like a lot)and during the 4th quarter of GS game he and Blatche dominated inside. Did you forget or just chose to ignore that Blatche almost had a double/double. Please learn a new trick, say something that means something or get some else to write for you who actually seems to pay attention to the game.

  • poppalaw

    And there is no defense for McGhee, he is what he is and does not seem willing to learn to work within the skill set needed. His use off the bench as an energy guy in the 2d quarter might be his best use. He is a terrific athlete who does not seem to want to be a terrific basketball player.

  • I know, I know …

    But doesn’t your defense of Blatche seem more blind than my critique is unabashed.

    Yes, he dominates teams with crappy interior defense … good for him.

    And most of the credit simply goes to him because there is simply not a better option … I’m not sure how much one can hang their hat on that.

    I think in the end, my better alternative is to develop those who seem to care more, better options and increased chances at winning be damned.

    So, I guess, the onus might be on you to prove that Blatche doesn’t care vastly less than those who want it more.

    I know, loaded question.

    Maybe we shall agree to disagree?

    But, I do certainly appreciate your comments that go toward lending more balance to my obviously swayed perspective.

  • Starting McGee is defensible, because there’s still hope he will learn from the experience. Starting Blatche, who continues to be “soft,” etc. is less defensible because he’s had four-plus years to grow into a consistent, focused, leadership role and he hasn’t. Sitting Blatche would send a useful message: at some point, it’s not about potential–it’s about results.

  • Ryan

    In my opinion, you should keep McGee starting (I don’t see the issue with him.. top 5 in blocks, and the best Player Efficiency Rating on the team. Why would you even consider benching him?), but bench Blatche for Booker. Booker is showing more and more he can be a starting player in the NBA, so I think we should give him a shot to show what he’s made of the final 15-20 games or however many are left.

  • rjg9n

    I dunno if we’re all blinded by mcgee’s epic awesomeness and ridiculous physical abilities, but I still feel like he may just need more time than the average center to get his head together. Look how long it took Dwight Howard to develop a legitimate back to the basket game, and it may be that Javale will take a little longer to learn the game. But the way he’s been putting on muscle and even a little more height to his frame tells me that if we can get his head straight and develop him he’s going to be a top 5 center in the league.

  • AjWiz

    Start Booker over Blatche, he is way more efficient and actually cares about defending. He plays inside like a pf should and he might be a force down low in the future. Flip would be sending the wrong message if he let lazy bums like ‘dray’ start, while keeping Booker on the bench.

  • Ryan Gracia

    Honestly, I don’t think there was a coincidence that the Wizards fought like dogs against the Heat and the Mavs when Blatche was “injured” and inactive in both. Please watch what happens when he gets the ball during games. His head goes down, he dribbles, he tries to shimmy around his defender, puts it behind his back then puts something up. All this while his teammates are open, but now forced to stand around watching his awful one-man show. Yes, he can put up numbers — but anyone could put up numbers when passing is their 10th option. It’s too bad. Because he actually does have quite an impressive ability to make beautiful passes. He just rarely uses it. The Wizards should give him up for a bag of chips, as my brother says.
    As for McGee…I don’t even know where to start with this brainless wonder. I may be harsh, but I just don’t understand how someone with his abilities can continue to do the same mistakes over and over and over and over. It’s unbelievable the type of athlete that he is — freaking incredible. But he jumps at nonsensical pump fakes and then turns his back to try to not commit the foul (though he inevitably does) and the player makes the basket plus the foul, rather than fouling him hard so the next guy who comes his way will think twice. Don’t even get me started with his fadeaway turnaround jumpers. Are you kidding? Relax, use your newfound muscles and back your defender down! A 7-footer shouldn’t settle for that kind of shot. And he needs to remember that he’s not a point guard. That’s why they drafted John Wall — to bring the ball up court. Not McGee.

  • worldwizards

    Blatche may be able to score 16 on an avg night but he is not efficient and overall hurts the team because the way he plays. Play him less so that his weaknesses not exposed to other teams and we may get better trade value.

  • Bryant

    I say bench Blatche he is really the reason why the team is always screwing up. Once the ball is passed to him , he does not move the ball around to other teammates. All i see him do is take the first shot he see’s without looking for teamates or taking an extremely difficult shot. I know McGee sometimes does the same but he has better defense and his blocking ability is great. McGee still has lots to learn but Blatche is already somewhat of a vet and he still doesnt seem to know how to play the right way. Yeah he puts up good numbers at times but its not consistant and it sure as hell isnt leading to any wins. Please bench this guy he is killing this team!

  • T Scroggins

    McGee is a work in progress. One of the assitant coaches needs to take him to school about basic basketball. At his height and jumping ability, he should never go for a fake. Require that he study the films of the great shot blockers and let Sam fake him out of his underwear. Andre needs to go to the bench. He plays soft, uninspired, lazy, unskilled, and like the organization owes him something. He has been given several years to develop into the Power Forward we need. His time is now, and he’s not showing the results of the organization’s investment. Andre is not the sandlot hero anymore. It is the NBA, where you must be a MAN amongst MEN. Play the rookie, Trevor Booker, as the starter. He seems hungry enough to keep the job.

  • rjg9n

    – halfway thru the minnesota game the wiz frontcourt looks like they’re working pretty hard, starters and bench

  • JP

    Maybe it’s time to start Blatche at center and give Booker a start at PF. McGee has struggled since the All-Star break.

    Blatche hasn’t been great, but the past couple games he’s put in some solid minutes. He actually did a good job of controlling Love in the first half.

    I don’t see how anyone can say that Blatche isn’t moving the ball around. On the season, his numbers aren’t great, but the last two games he’s had 13 assists against only 4 turnovers. That’s great production at PF.

    As far as next season goes, PF and Center are still areas where the Wizards have no clear starter. McGee and Blatche have both had opportunities this year, and both have left the door open for someone else to take the starting spot from them. Unless there’s a big increase in their development neither would be a starter on a good team.

  • At this point in the season I don’t see much of a point in starting Blatche or McGee, especially McGee. We know what they are at this point. They have been in the league long enough to show whether or not they desire to be good players in this league. While Blatche has at least shown signs of being a good player, he can’t do it consistently.

    For the rest of the season we should focus on our future. Booker and Seraphin need to see more minutes in the frontcourt. Booker while undersized will give his full effort whenever he is on the court–you can’t say that about Blatche or McGee. Booker also played four years in college, he should be more NBA ready than most players and I believe that he is. Sure he can progress still, but I think Booker can contribute right now, it is just a matter of getting minutes or not.

    As for Seraphin he is still incredibly raw, and that is to be expected. These last 20 games should be used for him to grow. I am not saying that Flip should just gives these guys the minutes because they are young, they have earned the minutes–or at the very least Blatche and McGee have failed to earn their own minutes.

    It’s not like things could go any worse if we give Booker and Seraphin starters minutes.

  • You have to keep starting both of them to give the impression that they are worth a damn to other teams. McGee and Blatche are nothing more than bargaining chips at this point: all of us wizards fans know they flat out cannot play winning basketball… but other teams may think otherwise, especially about McGee due to the lack of talented big men in the league. I am praying for these two to be shipped off somewhere this summer, but for the time being we have to keep starting them in order to make it seem like they are worth something. I feel the same way about Nick Young. 20 points and 0 assists a game on poor percentages for a 16 win team is a useless player… but this is a league where executives make many mistakes, and his scoring has undoubtedly attracted attention from around the league. We could get valuable trade assets for these guys, but we have to keep starting them for now if we want that to happen.