December 27, 2011
This summer, when the NBA season was but a dream, Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche decided to get serious about his profession. After six seasons of general disarray and inconsistency, Blatche claimed he wanted to get his act together and even went so far as to organize offseason practices, at which he handed out t-shirts with the immortal slogan "Playoff Starts Here." The Wizards appreciated his efforts, because they named him captain and had him address the crowd as a team leader before Monday night's home opener.
Unfortunately, Blatche's new approach didn't last very long. After a frustrating 90-84 loss to the visiting Nets that saw the Wizards blow a 21-point lead, Blatche complained about the exact nature of his offensive touches. Here's Gene Wang for the Wizards Insider blog at WashingtonPost.com:
Blatche finished with 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting, taking mostly jumpers. That didn't sit well with the team captain who addressed the announced crowd of 17,102 before tip-off.
A reporter asked Blatche to address Coach Flip Saunders' comments that players were relying too much on individual production once the Wizards went comfortably ahead early in the second quarter, 37-17.
"He probably was talking about me for the simple fact that I said I need the ball in the paint to be effective," Blatche said. "You can't keep having me pick and pop and shooting jumpshots. Gimme the ball in the paint. That's where I'm most effiective at [sic]. I've been saying that since training camp. I need the ball in the paint. I don't wand to be the pick-and-pop guy I used to be because it's not working for me." [...]
"I'm not saying the offense has to run through me, but I prefer to be in the paint," said Blatche, who later went to Twitter to express his frustration.
You can check out that tweet here. You'll find that it says pretty much exactly the same thing as his post-game comments, which at least proves that Blatche knows how to stay on message.
To his credit, Blatche is at least a little right. At NBAPlaybook.com, Nick Flynt noted that Blatche has been better in the paint over the course of his career, even if he hasn't been particularly efficient. On the other hand, Nick also found that Blatche didn't dive into the paint after screens to get the ball on the block. He had a right to question if he was getting the ball in the best places, but he also didn't take advantages of the opportunities he was given. So who's to blame, really?
Plus, even if we assume Blatche is 100-percent correct on the merits, it makes little sense to question the offensive game plan just a day into the season. That action undermines the coach, his teammates, and the people who believed in Blatche when he said he was ready to lead. Why would anyone ever trust him again?