It came as a bit of a surprise when Dallas was linked to Andray Blatche with their MLE. Who is he? Why does Dallas want a guy who averaged 3.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12 minutes per game last season. I knew exactly who to ask, Pradamaster who runs Bullets Forver. Here is what he had to say about him.
But in all seriousness, Blatche is an extremely raw 21-year old forward with tons of -- yes, you guessed it -- upside. He kind of plays like a raw Jared Jeffries, except he's a much, much better rebounder. He's only starting to learn how to use his length and quickness on both ends of the court, and the flashes have become more and more consistent since he was shot during the summer of his rookie year in 2005. One of his most memorable performances came against Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves. Garnett didn't play badly, but Blatche more than held his own.
His main strength is on the defensive end. Blatche has the type of athleticism that allows him to guard multiple positions. He's quick enough to stay with most 3s even with his height, and he's curtailed many of his problems with basic man-to-man fundamentals. He's also a phenomenal rebounder. In just 12 minutes per game, he grabbed nearly 3 and a half rebounds, which translates to something like 11 rebounds per 40 minutes. He's becoming much better at using his long frame to secure key rebounds.
Offensively, he still has a ways to go. His jump shot is improving, but it's extremely inconsistent. His ball-handling is much worse, and his decision making really needs to improve. But for a guy who started playing organized basketball in high school, he's come a long way, and there's no reason to think he absolutely can't improve in the future.
I wouldn't take his stats this year at face value. Not only is he so young and so raw, but Eddie Jordan totally misused him this year. Even though the Wizards desperately needed defense and rebounding -- Blatche's two biggest strengths -- he was continually passed over in the rotation in favor of the mediocre Darius Songaila. Even after the injuries to Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas, Blatche remained tethered to the bench. It's clear general manager Ernie Grunfeld values him more than coach Eddie Jordan. I think this will change next year if he's back in a Wizards uniform, to be honest, but it's something to consider.
I must say, however, that I don't really get why Dallas wants him. Blatche will always have more value to the Wizards, mostly because his strengths correspond with their weaknesses. That won't happen in Dallas. Dallas could really use a post-up, back-to-the-basket scorer off the bench, and Blatche certainly isn't that guy. He's also always been a fan favorite here, mostly because we're still getting over the Kwame Brown disaster. I understand Dallas needs a backup to Dirk, but in terms of potential young forwards, they already have a couple in Nick Fazekas and local boy (for me) Pops Mensah-Bonsu. It seems like this whole thing is just the agent talking up his client. A team like New Jersey or Cleveland (if they don't re-sign Varejao) makes more sense for Blatche than Dallas, in my opinion.
I've always loved the idea of getting players who were drafted out of high-school after their first contract runs out and the team who drafted them gives up too early (i.e. DeSagana Diop), so the idea of Blatch is intriguing to me -- regardless if he's a good fit or fills a need. I'm a sucker for "upside".