Friday, February 25, 2011

Blatche continues to embarrass himself, Wizards

I'll admit it: I'm not Andray Blatche's biggest fan -- far from it. And I'm certainly not alone. Blatche, now in his sixth NBA season, has shown flashes of improved play at times in his career, but he hasn't progressed to the point where most Wizards fans hoped he would be. At 24, he's still a young guy. But he hasn't been able to stop creating controversy off the court. If he was making tremendous strides on the court, his whole act may be worth overlooking at times. Unfortunately, that's not the case. (More on that below.)

The latest distraction involves Blatche's misadventures on Twitter. Blatche apparently got into several recent arguments with fans on Twitter, including an offer to let his fists do the talking instead.

Here's the latest, according to Michael Lee of The Washington Post (first link above):
After making comments about being able to "buy and sell" someone and calling people who make threats on the Internet "punks," Blatche allegedly tweeted: "ok let's do this so everyone can see wat u bout let's meet n dc saturday after my game." Another tweet on his account read, "like I said I'm done with this fake internet thing if you wanna see meet me saturday after game I can throw these things homie"

Those tweets no longer appear on Blatche's Verified Account, but he wrote this morning that his account was hacked, "If anyone really thinks that was me responding yesterday is crazy I just heard of this this morning."

He later added, "i would like for everyone to use there brain for a moment im hardly on here why would i wanna be on twitter in miami i tweeted 33 things"
That's right, the old "someone hacked my account" excuse. It's not the first time someone's used that explanation, and it won't be the last. Lee also noted that the Wizards are siding with Blatche on the matter and won't take any disciplinary action. That's not shocking either.

What is shocking, though, is that Blatche keeps finding himself in the middle of foolish stories like these. Really, this is one of the more harmless things Blatche has done (and there have been plenty), but he never seems to be able to avoid getting involved in the first place. Blatche says that it wasn't him arguing with fans and challenging them to fight, but this is also the same guy who listens to sports talk radio and will actually call in when fans are criticizing his play. If Blatche is going to be passionate about his play off the court, then he should be the same guy on the court too. It would be nice if he worried more about defending the paint than defending his subpar play. I'm not suggesting that he doesn't give maximum effort during games, but it would be nice to see a steady progression in his game. And that hasn't occurred.

Right now, Blatche is averaging a career best 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He's also doing that while playing the most minutes of his career, over 34 minutes per game (nearly seven more per game than last season). Unfortunately, Blatche is doing so while also taking more shots per game (14.7) and shooting a lower percentage from the field (43.1 percent). For a guy who's not a very good defender, that's just not going to get the job done.

For comparison's sake, Blatche is currently 14th among power forwards in terms of scoring. There are plenty of talented players above Blatche, obviously, such as Amare Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, etc.; you get the idea. As you'd expect, those guys are much more efficient than Blatche and make more of their shots. In fact, the only power forward above Blatche who shoots a lower percentage is, fittingly, Antawn Jamison (17.9 points, 42.7 percent shooting). That's not to say that Blatche doesn't have talent -- he does, but just not as much as most fans thought. (For what it's worth, Love takes nearly the same amount of shots per game (14.6) and averages 20.9 points. Just saying.)

It's one thing for a bad team to just be bad. And yes, the Wizards have that part covered. But it's a whole different level of embarrassment when players are mentioned in the news for off-the-court nonsense that is entirely avoidable. The disappointing aspect to all this, which I mentioned a few times, is that Blatche has the talent to be a solid player. He's not a total stiff. But he hasn't always seemed completely dedicated to his craft. It's sad that a guy with great physical gifts would be more worried about fans' criticisms and smack talk rather than putting in extra work and proving them wrong.

And it's not that this story makes me think any different of Blatche or paints him in a different light. I think most people who heard about what Blatche did (or may have done) didn't find it surprising at all and probably just nodded their collective heads. But incidents like these are just more of the same for Blatche, who keeps demonstrating that he is not a player who will be on this team when it starts winning again -- let alone be a guy who, along with John Wall, the Wizards can build the team around.

Considering that Blatche signed a five-year, $35 million extension before the season, that's a bit disconcerting. Scratch that, it's very disconcerting.

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