First a quick intro. I've lurked for a long time, appreciative of all of you who do so much analysis for those of us who can't catch as many games (special thanks to Prada and Rook, whose analysis I particularly enjoy). I've been in England for the last few years, so seeing my Wiz Kids hasn't been easy.
I'm back in the country and thought maybe, now that I am watching a few games myself, I'll try to be a little more active. I played hoops in college, for a mid-majorish school and took a few trips to the tourney. Love the memories even if Craig Smith and LeMarcus Aldridge weren't great matchups for a skinny white student masquerading as a power forward/center. So hopefully I'll occasionally have something to offer.
Today's post is on the topic de jour - Andray Blatche. As a player myself whose career was dependent on setting good screens and getting more out of my talent than anyone else, Blatche is a tough guy to watch. But bigs with some skills don't come around that often.
Watching Andray Blatche now - still looking out of shape, not a great finisher, weak on the boards and a liability on defense, even if occasionally flashing a tantalizing skill set for his size - I keep asking myself the same question. Is Andray Blatche an asset for the rebuild? Like many of you, I've changed my mind a number of times over the past few years. I think yes, but not in the way Ernie G might think. I think Blatche is an asset because he allows the Wizards to tank.
Obviously, kind of kidding here. But the Rook-approved rebuilding plan requires another high first round pick. Just watching the team, it's pretty obvious this team is short a couple of scorers. But a top 5 pick (Barnes? Jones?) along with a good free agent (maybe Nick Young if he makes another leap, but more likely a Gilbert Arenas/young Caron Butler type acquisition - a young, but proven, scorer with some potential to make an all-star team). That team starts to look like a real basketball team.
I like the secondary group of players EG has collected. Do I think Singleton, Booker, Vesley and possibly even Mack and Seraphim are nice complementary guys who can eventually be the 5-9 guys in a contender's rotation? I actually do - especially if supplemented with the cap flexibility to pick up professionals like Turiaf. Combine that with Wall (the obvious keeper) and McGee (who I'm encouraged by), and what this team is missing is one, possibly two (depending on Nick Young) guys that can create shots, and a year or two of seasoning.
If you're an OKC believer, we're short our Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but have our "Durant" (who can ever have another Durant? - Wall is actually more like Westbrook, but still a likely franchise guy) and Serge Ibaka (McGee, if you squint).
That's a problem. This was commonly acknowledged in the offseason, but the biggest danger to the rebuild is becoming a one-star team that competes for the 7th seed every year. Mitch Richmond land.
This is where Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford come in. They're high usage "placeholders" that can suck up shots until our real scorers are drafted/signed. Their low efficiency almost guarantees we sacrifice enough wins along the way to let the Sacramentos and Minnesotas pass us in the win column. And there's always a chance that Blatche or Crawford actually put it together (although, I'm not optimistic - the NBA is a tough place to learn not to be selfish - there's a reason guys like Bruce Bowen and Derek Fisher rise from obscurity to be role players for champions). In the meantime, guys like Singleton, Vesley and McGee can get used to being the 4th or 5th option on the court - the roles that they'll eventually have playing for a contender (hopefully here).
And this solves the "do we tank?" debate - for which there always has been an answer. Tanking is organizational (see OKC trading Ray Allen for Jeff Green). Players have pride and future $$s on the line, but organizations can tear down, and often do for draft picks and cap space.
In short, Andray Blatche plays a useful role on this team. It's the role of a high usage, low efficiency player on a bad team, as that team looks to ultimately replace him with more efficient players (who do a professional job of giving effort and playing defense). Do I think that's what Ernie's planning? Probably not. Do I hope Blatche becomes a superstar, or a guy that looks like he can contribute to a winner? Of course.
But in the meantime, I won't hold my breathe. I'll catch an extra college game or two. Keep an eye out for Vesley's girl on the sidelines. And I'll kiss my lucky, autographed Juwan Howard poster that Blatche won't let us be the next Houston Rockets, no matter how ugly it is until we find another star to pair with Wall.