Most of the time when you read stuff about the Wizards, there are certain words that you know are going to be assosciated with specific players on the team. It's almost impossible to find a sentence with Antawn Jamison's name in it that doesn't also include the word veteran. With Gilbert Arenas, you know you're going to see the word explosive somewhere in his description. Caron always gets the tough label. And of course, with Andray Blatche, you know you're going to hear the word potential used.
(AP - Manuel Balce Ceneta)
We've all seen flashes of Blatche is capable of. You don't see a lot of guys at 6-11 that can shoot and handle the ball like Blatche does. But his unique skill set isn't his only asset. He had nine double-doubles last season and only 4 players averaged more blocks per 36 than he did last year. Given that he just turned 22 last week, it looks like many more productive seasons are on the way as he starts realizing the potential everyone talks about.
While there's no debate among Wizard fans about whether or not Andray has potential or not, there has been a lot discussion regarding whether or not he'll ever realize it. We can talk all day long about whether or not he has what it takes to make the most of his considerable gifts, but we don't get into a lot of discussion about how good he could be if he put it all together. So for this week's edition of Pollin', we're strictly focusing on what we think Andray's ceiling is, not whether or not he can actually reach it. Here are ceiling levels:
MVP Candidate: To reach this level you're looking for someone that's the unquestioned top player on a strong team over a good stretch of time with at least 7 All-Star appearances and at least one or two serious bids for MVP. Think Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki.
- Perennial All-Star: For this level we're talking about someone with 3 or more All-Star appearances, that's the top player on a decent team or a very good second option on a very good team. Think Jermaine O'Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Shawn Marion.
- Borderline All-Star: Here we're looking at someone that makes it to the All-Star game once or twice at most. Unless they're mired on a team in complete rebuild mode, they're operating as a second or third banana. Think Shareef Abdur-Raheem, Theo Ratliff, Jamal Mashburn,
- Good, but not quite an All-Star: Barring a luck selection in a down year, these guys won't ever make an All-Star team, but they're certainly above average players at their position. Think Lamar Odom, Marcus Camby, Vlade Divac.
Solid, but not spectacular: These are guys that are going to be either average starters or above-average backups. Unless they find themselves on a perennial contender, they'll end up fading into obscurity, even if they have a longer than normal career.
Personally, I'd slot him in the Borderline All-Star range, but on the right day I could be talked into slotting him as a Perennial All-Star type talent especially if he gets traded. But what do you think? Is Andray the next big thing, or are we just drooling too much over a tall guy with strong putback skills?