Years Pro: 8
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Prior to NBA: South Kent Prep (CT)
Andray Blatche is a step-back jumper wrapped in an enigma wrapped in conspiracy theorist tinfoil. He does nothing by any book and still somehow purifies in the waters of effectiveness. When the NBA keeps getting smaller and quicker, Blatche dominated in a lineup next to Brook Lopez, who is both similarly slow-footed and offense-geared. When he has the ball in his hands with under eight seconds on the shot clock, the universe ceases motion, unable to focus on anything but what might happen next. He seems to play possession to possession with no plan, no point of emphasis, and still pulls plays out of a magic hat. He lapped the league in “NO NO NO WHAT ARE YOU THI-nice shot” plays last season.
I’ll try to focus on what I can quantify here. Below is a chart with three bars per stat: the first is Blatche’s career average in Washington, the second his career high in Washington, and the third his production in Brooklyn. You see the difference immediately.
(Note: WS/48, or win shares per 48 minutes, is the last figure on the chart. It was adjusted upwards so it would be visible on the chart.)
Blatche’s offensive skills are numerous and impressive. He has the ballhandling skills of a forward and the passing ability of a bad point guard (which is still better than most centers). He can create his own shot all over the floor, even if he sometimes shouldn’t (memo: stop shooting threes). Former Nets guard Jerry Stackhouse said last year that he considered Blatche almost unguardable because of his wide array of skills at his size, and Stackhouse was right: Blatche was the only player in the NBA last season to average 19 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and one block per 36 minutes. He set numerous career highs, including field goal percentage, and doubled his player efficiency rating from the season before.
Defensively, Blatche still leaves much to be desired. He exerts much of his energy creating on the offensive end, which doesn’t leave much for defense. He’ll make an occasional big block and amp himself up, but otherwise he suffers from some combination of slowness and indifference. He’s bulky and strong in the post, and grabs more than his share of rebounds, but a Blatche-led defense won’t win any championships.
BREAK: ANDRAY BLATCHE HIGHLIGHTS!
He’s crafty, but not particularly athletic. He’s nearly unstoppable near the rim, but good enough away from it that he doesn’t stick there. He can play both as the lead big man or the secondary. He treated preseason like a pickup game and still outplayed half the roster. He’s got a pile of off-court issues stacked as tall as Billy King’s desk, but still does under-the-radar charitable work and has at least tried to reinvent himself in Brooklyn.
Blatche’s greatness last year was an unstoppable force, his rigidness in playing his unorthodox brand of basketball an immovable object. It’s impossible to predict how he’ll perform this year for the same reason we’ve never solved that timeless paradox. When he’s got his shot to create, it’s the greatest show in sports, unless it’s the worst play on the floor. One thing’s certain: we’ll be watching.
|Previous: Mirza Teletovic||Next: Brook Lopez|
| Shaun Livingston | Deron Williams | Tyshawn Taylor | Alan Anderson | Joe Johnson | Jason Terry | Andrei Kirilenko | Paul Pierce | Tornike Shengelia | Reggie Evans | Kevin Garnett | Mirza Teletovic | Andray Blatche | Brook Lopez | Mason Plumlee |