I'll admit that there's something about being a blogger that gravitates you towards untapped, unknown potential. I'm not really sure what it is, but on this very network, we have bloggers clamoring for James White, Justin Williams, and Tyrus Thomas, when coaches and/or mainstream media types are all over guys like Andres Nocioni. Clearly, there's something in our blood that causes this.
Therefore, it's probably understandable when I say that the Wizards' season rests on Andray Blatche's shoulders.
As currently constructed, the Wizards, sans Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas, are a team of role players and still parts. You can expect many of these guys to increase their numbers, but it's unrealistic to expect them to suddenly learn new skills. Antawn Jamison isn't going to become a volume scorer like Gilbert Arenas, Antonio Daniels isn't going to develop a consistent outside shot, and Etan Thomas isn't going to grow 2 inches. Even younger guys like DeShawn Stevenson, Jarvis Hayes, and Darius Songaila probably are locked into their roles, Hayes' big game last night notwithstanding. They are all limited players; Stevenson because of his inability to handle the ball, Hayes because of his one-dimensional shooting, and Songaila because of his rebounding and defensive weaknesses.
But Blatche is different. Blatche has the length to defend, the athleticism to rebound, and the size to get shots off against smaller players. More importantly, he has the potential to affect the game in many different ways, whether it be a quick scoring spurt, an athletic rebound, a great defensive play, or even a dunk on someone's face. Obviously, he won't be able to do all those things in the same game, but even if he can provide a burst, it will be worth far more than the points on the scoreboard.
There's a certain stability that coaches like in veterans. There's a reason guys like Songaila will stick around for a long time, even though they are limited players. There's also a strange axiom where coaches are scared of turning players loose, because they fear the inexperience will turn into mistakes that go right back to the coach. But this axiom mostly occurs because there's a system that works, or if it doesn't, the coach thinks it does.
At this point, the Wizards system doesn't really exist. You can't really play your system without your two centerpieces. The Wizards have been adjusting on the fly, but it's not like Blatche is going to mess anything up. It's a desperate enough situation where Blatche's postives outweigh his negatives.
So I am pleading Eddie Jordan to find a place for Blatche. Normally, I'd install him as the starting small forward, but Jarvis Hayes has been playing better lately and has been more successful as a starter than off the bench. Yesterday, without Hayes' offense, the Wizards really struggled. They could play him at power forward, but that position is already crowded.
Still, he needs 25-30 minutes every game, and if that means fewer minutes for Hayes and Songaila, I don't think it's a major loss. Because, at this point, for the Wizards to be even moderately successful this season and in the future, Blatche has to be a major part. He's not going to be a major part if he's tethered to the bench.