The recent injury to Andray Blatche is very unfortunate, to say the least. Not only are we down to one healthy center and one healthy forward-masquerating-as-center, but I worry how it'll affect Blatche's progression. The dude has come a long way since the start of the season, but even the biggest Blatche fan (like myself) has to admit that he's not exactly the easiest youngster to coach. I worry about whether this injury will throw a monkey wrench into his confidence and his concentration. Even during his improvement, his lack of rebounding has been frustrating, and I wonder whether inactivity like this will heighten the problem. I'm cautiously optimistic. it won't, but you never know.
Of course, the blessing in disguise (so you'd think) is that this means more minutes for JaVale McGee. The Phoenix game showed us that JaVale can produce decently if given some more playing time. Now, it's true that JaVale also makes tons of mistakes, mistakes that cost us defensively, but that's to be expected with someone so raw. If you don't want to play a raw center when you're 9-34, then blame Ernie Grunfeld for drafting the guy. As long as we suck, we should commit to giving our young athletic freak of a first-round pick a chance to play while he's still cheap.
I don't necessarily want to see JaVale play 35 minutes a game, nor do I insist he start, but he needs to see an uptake in minutes. Small picture, he develops confidence, is provided more chances to learn during in-game settings and may actually help the team win. Big picture, he'll show off his potential even more. This was one implication from cuppettcj's excellent FanPost that I disagreed with. Putting JaVale on the bench isn't going to preserve his potential; it's going to add an unnecessary caveat. Across the league, people are going to wonder, "Why is such a freak of an athlete sitting on a team like that?" If JaVale gets more minutes, we'll see more of his potential play out. It's not like teams don't realize he's raw and will make tons of mistakes.
Of course, that last part assumes he may be needed as a sweetner to move an undesirable contract, which I believe would be a terrible idea. But even if we were to accept that premise, it makes absolutely no sense for JaVale to stay on the bench with Blatche out. I'd rather Darius Songaila be the injured player than Blatche, but so long as JaVale sees an uptake in minutes, this may be a blessing in disguise for his development.
The other piece of news today is that DeShawn Stevenson is close to returning. Ed Tapscott's already peeing in his pants at the thought of this development (same link).
"As you know I'm a big DeShawn Stevenson fan, so I thought practice looked better because of his presence. I'm happy to have him back," Tapscott said. "I said to one of our assistants, in jest, do you think DeShawn can play a little five for us?"
I'm being a bit harsh, to be fair. In theory at least, DeShawn epitimizes the type of team Ernie and Ed are trying to create: selfless, low-usage, tough-minded, good defensively. So it's understandable that DeShawn be held up as an example to the young guys. At the same time, Taps, a big DeShawn Stevenson fan? Are you kidding me? How is that not preferential treatment? We're fans of DeShawn Stevenson; you're his coach. How bout, y'know, coaching him like you coach everyone else.
Anyway, there's no reason DeShawn can't be an example to the team from the bench and in practice. I realize the need to pump up his trade value, but the wing is now really crowded. You need to find minutes for Javaris Crittenton, Nick Young and Dominic McGuire, all while giving Mike James and Caron Butler their time considering their production levels, at least relative to DeShawn's. If you play DeShawn more, you're playing Nick, Dominic or Javaris less, and the inconsistency of their minute distribution as the season progresses is not the best trait for their development. It's a tradeoff, sure, but must you really give DeShawn a ton of minutes just to make him an example to the young guys? I'm sure DeShawn would go for it too, because he's a selfless, stand-up guy.