Stepping Up and Stepping Out: Andray Blatche- season: 7.8pts 5rbs 1.5ast 1.9blks High: 26pts 8rbs 4ast, 12-14fgThe Good:
In his third season, Blatche is starting to see some consistent minutes on the court for the Wizards. Blatche has played over 20 minutes in each of the past 9 games and has become more involved in the offense recently. Blatche has played closer to the basket, which is significant considering his ball handling ability and his penchant for attempting to play all over the court. The team has harnessed his game to some degree and it is paying dividends.
More impressive may be Blatches defensive contributions. He has consistently protected the rim and given his opponent difficulty when trying to score against him. His length and timing have led to numerous steals and blocks which have helped to get Washington into transition. The Bad:
Blatche is still trying to find his role in the offense. While he has a lot of tools he is still very much learning his opponents defensive tendencies and figuring out how to do what against whom. Blatche is capable of some spectacular plays, but hasnt established any type of go-to move that he can use as a routine part of the offense. Outlook:
Its difficult to over analyze any trends in play this early in the season, so I dont think there is any cause for concern as far as Blatches decision making goes. Early on, Blatche has been able to contribute a bit of everything on both ends of the court, but his next stage of development will involve becoming an integral part of team schemes and less of a rover.
With Gilbert Arenas
sidelined for the next 3 months there will never be a better time for the team to incorporate Blatche fully into the team schemes. Blatche has the ability to be a 3rd option in the teams offense right now, so it will be interesting to see how coach Eddie Jordan
elects to utilize him. It would be more ideal for Blatche to play against other power forwards, but he does present unique matchup possibilities as a 5-man. His ability to draw bigs out of the paint and drive past them is nice, but his defensive mobility could be the real key for Washington staying competitive. Spotlight Match-up: Andray Blatche vs. Philadelphia 76ers 1st Half:
Blatche came in for Brandon Haywood after the big man picked up two quick fouls. Blatche quickly made his presence felt on the offensive end with a nice turnaround one-handed baseline jumper that got the crowds attention. Blatche was covered by a number of different defenders including Andre Iguadala, Jason Smith
, and Sam Dalembert. 2nd Half:
Blatche remained steady in the 2nd half on the offensive side of the ball, but got a bit carried away and turned the ball over three times in the third period. Defensively, the Wizards as a team gave some ground to Philly and Blatche himself missed a number of rotations on the interior that helped lead to some easy baskets. Play of the Game:
Blatche got the ball on the low right block in the fourth quarter with Louis Amundson
pressed up against him and forcing him tight along the baseline. Blatche used a quick baseline spin to get around Amundson, but found himself directly under the basket. With Amundson still right up on his shot hand, Blatche up-faked and spun away from the basket, around Amundson and finished with a one-handed bank off the glass with his momentum carrying away from the basket.
This play pretty much sums up Blatches athletic potential and is something to look forward to for Wizards fans throughout this season of development.