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Yet again, Andray Blatche is the X-factor

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I feel like we've been referring to Andray Blatche by that term for such a long time, but right now, it fits best.

With Etan Thomas sidelined for, potentially, a very long time, Blatche has now become the important guy on that bench.  Eddie Jordan is saying that Blatche will likely be the number 2 center.

On the one hand, it's not like Eddie has much of a choice, with Tony Massenberg the only other big on the roster than could play behind Brendan Haywood.  On the other hand, the fact that Eddie is doing this already speaks volumes, because it shows that perhaps Blatche has finally figured out that he needs to dedicate himself on the practice court.

Need evidence?  Here you go.

The star of the day was unquestionably Andray Blatche.

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Andray scored the white team's first two buckets on layups. The first was a pretty reverse lay in that came in traffic and the second capped a fast break. Later, he rolled from the low block to the high post, set a screen for Taylor, who then rolled and flipped the ball back to Blatche. Blatche could have taken a contested shot but he read the defense and quickly swung the ball into the corner to a wide open Mason, who drained a long jumper. Blatche also had a play where he stepped out, received a pass and faced up on Mike Hall. Rather than put the ball on the floor, he simply squared his body and drained a 15-footer off glass over the shorter defender.

On the defensive end, Blatche also made a couple of nice plays. On one, Gilbert drove down the right side of the lane and attempted to flip in a layup off glass but Andray came off his man, shuffled over and then stretched out and pinned the ball on the glass. (Gilbert was hollering for a goal tend but it wasn't from my seat). Blatche then grabbed the ball and pushed it the other way in transition. Later, he again came over on help defense and pinned a Caron Butler layup attempt to the backboard.

Damn!  When was the last time you heard Andray Blatche standing out at practice?  Clearly, someone said something to him after he got arrested for solicitation, and he's taken it to heart.  

I think we can mostly agree that Blatche should have played more last year, but once I realized how bad his practice habits were, I can understand why Eddie Jordan was slow to take the plunge.  That's why this practice performance is so encouraging.  If there's one thing we've learned about Eddie Jordan, it's that he rewards those that play well in practice (see Ruffin, Michael).

Last year, Blatche was awful in training camp, and it affected him the entire season.  It was as if Eddie was personally offended by Blatche's poor training camp, and as a punishment, refused to relent from his position.  If he keeps up his strong performances in training camp this year, then it seems reasonable to expect that Eddie will be stubborn again, only in the opposite direction.  Perhaps now he'll invent crazy ways to keep Blatche on the court, rather than off it.

And what perfect timing, considering Etan's troubles.  I'm sure I'm being way too optimistic, but the image of Blatche leaping over lumbering centers for rebounds, beating them down the court for huge slams, and swooping out of nowhere for blocked shots is too much to overcome.  

Of course, that leaves open the question of whether Blatche is big enough to play center.  That's what I pose to you, the BF community, now.  Could Blatche actually play minutes at center without being a total liability?  Discuss.