So I'm at work on a Sunday, but we're slow as hell. Rather than find a productive way to keep busy (for my company, anyway), I decided to check out the Post's Wizards Insider blog, a recent entry in which stated:
For comparison's sake just consider that folks with the Wizards believe Andray [Blatche] is already better than Kwame Brown ever was yet Ernie was able to turn Kwame into Caron Butler.
As optimistic as I am about Blatche, I'm not sure I buy that he's as good as Kwame ever was. In his third season as a Wizard, Kwame averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 49% from the floor. In addition, he was generally considered the Wizards' best (and overall a decent) post defender. I watched him dominate Jermaine O'Neal in a Washington win over Indiana.
To my thinking, Blatche, with his career highs of 3.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and .437 shooting last season, has a ways to go to be "better than Kwame Brown ever was." Yet in researching for this post, I checked out Kwame's stats. They're bizarre. His free throw percentage in his rookie year was a career-high 70.7%, and it has declined each of the last 4 years to 44% last season -- that's Ruffin territory. His FG percentage last season was .591 -- or about 15 percentage points higher than his FT shooting. I can only attribute such a decline to a general apathy toward improving a crucial skill or a weird mental block.
What's oddest to me about Kwame is how he has invited scorn upon himself just about every time he turns around. He's 6-11, with great athletic ability and basketball skills, yet he's been only marginally productive (at best) every place he's played. I guess it's the glow of being a #1 pick (along with his obvious physical gifts) that keeps people expecting something awesome out of Kwame, even though he's never done anything in the NBA but underachieve (save a few games of brilliance that only serve as a further tease).
People who expect anything from Kwame are inevitably disappointed. During his time here, I was convinced that some day, it would click -- that he would gain some deeper understanding of basketball and how his talents fit into the game, and he would emerge as a force on the court. But of course he hasn't, and anyone who still thinks he will is deluding himself. The reason? Kwame won't compete. I understand that as a professional athlete, a game that you love playing can become workaday drudgery. But hundreds of NBA players with a lot less talent than Kwame find a way to overcome this. Michael Jordan famously called Kwame a "faggot" in his rookie season (I'm not a fan of the term, and in this case, that's damn insulting to gay men), reducing him to tears. And Phil Jackson as much as told Kwame he was a pussy. I've never seen anything from Kwame that proves the sentiment behind these assessments wrong.
My bottom line: Andray Blatche has yet to match Kwame Brown's accomplishments as an NBA player, but no way would I trade Blatche for Brown. One is an unproven commodity with vast potential. The other has proven only that he's everything you don't want an unproven commodity with vast potential to become.