Over the next few weeks, we will be evaluating the 2010/11 seasons of all the players who ended the year on the Wizards' roster. We'll offer our quick thoughts, then ask you to grade their season on a 1-10 scale in the comments. For the purposes of this exercise, we'll start with the key players and work our way down. Next in line: Andray Blatche.
#7 / Forward / Washington Wizards
Aug 22, 1986
Years in NBA: 6
Contract status: Four more years ($6.4M, $7.2M, $7.8M, $8.4M)
|2010 - Andray Blatche||64||33.9||6.7||15.0||44.5||0.1||0.3||22.2||3.4||4.4||77.7||2.9||5.4||8.2||2.3||2.7||1.5||0.8||2.8||16.8|
If you can say one thing about Andray Blatche, its that he consistently defies expectations. Following a strong second half to the 2009/10 season, Blatche's 2010/11 can only be described as a nightmare in which only his most ardent fans currently still have seats on the bandwagon. Blatche's year started with a broken foot and only got progressively worse, as he fought a series of injuries and performance issues which affected his play.
Combined with the injuries and the rollercoaster play were the normal off-court shenanigans that Wizards fans have come to expect. Whether it was a fight outside a nightclub calling in to Mike Wise's show to describe himself as "finesse player" and the "third option" or promoting lapdances, Blatche kept drawing attention to himself in all the wrong ways. On a team owned by Ted Leonsis, who promotes a community and fan-oriented brand, Blatche's actions have drawn an immediate and harsh rebuke. Of course, this was also capped off with a return to "vintage" form at the end of the season by Blatche, leading to snide jokes that he should be deactivated for the first 50 games of the season and left to play the remaining 30.
In sum, we are left with two camps regarding the future of Andray Blatche:
Optimist: Blatche never fully recovered from his foot injury (noting that foot injuries are especially devastating for bigs) and spent the entire year wearing what amounted to body armor due to his various injuries. The Wizards record reflects that they were a better team with Blatche on the floor, and he provided the Wizards only true offensive low-post presence. Further, he is still young, signed to a reasonable contract and has room to improve.
Pessimist: Blatche didn't put the work in necessary to recover from his injury and his lack of fitness led to an increasing array of maladies. Both on the offensive and defensive end, there was little improvement in his play and he takes as much from the table as he brings with poor hustle and recognition. Finally, he is an off-court distraction that keeps the Wizards from moving in a positive direction during the rebuild.
Honestly, I think we can throw both of these schools of thought out the window for the moment and concentrate on the crux of the issue. We are now one year into the John Wall era, and we are still uncertain as to where Blatche fits into the long term plans of the Wizards. JaVale McGee, Jordan Crawford and to a lesser extent Nick Young have all made claims to the roles they should have on next year's team, but Blatche remains an enigma. He's a player who doesn't necessarily need John Wall to execute the things he does effectively, but he also doesn't necessarily compliment the strengths that Wall brings to the team.
The question thus becomes one of role, utility and timeframe. The Wizards seem likely to take at least one more year to gamble on Blatche and figure out his place on the team. What role he plays and how he is used will go a long way to determining his effectiveness. There is just as much chance that Blatche with all his skill could emerge as a force much as LaMarcus Aldridge did for the Trailblazers (though probably not quite as good). There is also just as much chance that what we see is what we get and that Andray Blatche is no better than a seventh or eighth man on a decent team.
A LIMERICK ABOUT ANDRAY BLATCHE'S SEASON, BY JAKE WHITACRE
Favorite Andray Blatche quote as reported by Sean Fagan
"You're always talking about my shot selection. Trust me, I would love to shoot 50% every night. (Sarcastic voice) I would looooooove it. But that's not going to happen."