[Blatche celebrates a close win over the Pistons.]
Andray Blatche. Yes, that Andray Blatche … Party All Dray. He’s been a little bit different lately, hasn’t he? Sure has. Averaging 25.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in the last four games (up from his 17.4 and 8.7 respective averages per 36 for the season), since his return from injury is certainly a strong indication that things could be different for Blatche.
Straight and to the point, he’s been attacking the rim. Living in the paint. Doing the dirty work down low. All the good stuff the team has always needed Andray Blatche to do, but has never quite been satisfied.
Against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, the Wizards’ third win in a row (for the first time since April 2008), Blatche forced in 26 points on 8-18 shooting. Four of his misses came from inside five-feet from the rim (which is a good thing), and he made 7-8 of his field-goal attempts within two-feet.
Another treat resulting from Dray’s interior work: free-throws. He shot 12 of them, made 10 — 12 being the third most free-throw attempts in his 378 game career (he attempted 14 twice earlier this year, a November 2 win over Philadelphia and a close November 29 loss to the Heat in Miami). Also, two of Blatche’s free-throws against the Pistons came through in the clutch, giving the Wizards a four point lead with nine seconds left. Andray nailed his after rookie Greg Monroe missed two from the line that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left. And guess who secured the strong rebound after Monroe’s second miss? You got it, the man once known as simply: “Baltche.”
But back to Andray nailing seven of his eight field-goal attempts at the rim. He’s played in 59 games this season and has had eight or more attempts at the rim in 13 of those games. When this happens, the Wizards have a 9-4 record. The opponent, however, should also be considered. These instances of rim jobs came against the likes of Charlotte (twice), Toronto (three times), Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia (twice) and Miami — an average opponent winning-percentage of .400. [Note: two of Blatche's games of 10-plus field-goal attempts at the rim came last Friday versus Cleveland and last Sunday versus Charlotte.]
The Wizards have a 6-19 record when Blatche’s at-the-rim attempts are between five and seven shots per game. The average winning-percentage of those opponents is .520.
Continuing, the Wizards are 3-18 when Blatche attempts four or less shots at the rim, the average winning-percentage of those opponents is .536.
So, we’ve established that the Wizards lose when they play good teams, that they fare better when Blatche has more attempts at the rim, and that Blatche plays better against crappy opponents. Let’s look at a pretty chart to illustrate…
A lot of this goes without saying, but the numbers, in their limited snapshot illustration, could be a measure of future expectation, IF…
…IF Blatche decides he wants to take action at the rim all the time, against tough competition. Tonight against the Pacers in Indiana will be a good test. Friday against the Celtics in Boston will be an even better test. Will Blatche work inside on the road when it might be a little harder? Or will he settle for jump shots? That’s for him to determine.
It’s nice that Ted Leonsis now wants to anoint Blatche, along with Jordan Crawford and John Wall, as the “new big three” (boy, Nick Young was quickly tossed aside, wasn’t he?), but that silliness clouds reality with marketing fluff. Who the real Andray Blatche is has yet to be seen. Let’s hope the last three games is more of a blueprint for success and less of a free, whimsical, meaningless, temporary brand of basketball.
After the Pistons win, I asked Flip Saunders, Mo Evans and John Wall about the difference they’ve seen in Andray.
Flip on Blatche last year post-trade deadline versus this recent three-game stretch:
“I think he’s been much more patient and he hasn’t gotten frustrated. Last year he might have gotten a little frustrated because he wasn’t getting the ball. [Tonight] he kept doing the things that he’s supposed to do, defensively tried to rebound, and I think he knew that we’d come back to him [on offense]. He made some big plays down the stretch, and made big free-throws.”
Andray grabs big rebound after Greg Monroe misses his second free-throw:
[all photos: Kyle Weidie, Truth About It.net]