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A boy becomes a man: The Andray Blatche story

By Lee Friedman

The most important news this week in Wizardsville (we’ve got a long way to go before we hit Nation status, people) wasn’t the kick-off of training camp, or the constant speculation on the body language of Gilbert Arenas (I think The Post is one step away from hiring one of the body language experts Star and US Weekly use to tell us if Jen is secretly still in love with Brad by the way she pumps gas). It was the contract extension for Andray Blatche. I’ve had a running debate with some friends who are Wizards fans about whether this is a good move.

The arguments against it are solid: he’s a head case; we shouldn’t be signing people to long-term deals in the midst of a rebuilding process; he won’t average 22 and 8 with Arenas and Wall taking shots; when Steve Buckhantz says that he threw up an “ill-advised shot” he takes it as a compliment, etc. 

My response is this: If the Wizards are trying to lock up their young talent to reasonable long-term contracts, this is the kind of deal you make. I’m not naïve, if Blatche is your best player, you stink; if he is your second best player, you are just bad; but if he is your third best player, you could be decent or even good. If he is your fourth or fifth best player you could be a championship contending team. Now, I don’t think he’ll average 22 and 8 per game this year like he did at the end of last year. Arenas and Wall will take away a lot of shots. But it’s reasonable to expect he’d average 18 and 8.  He also won’t get double-teams thrown at him the way he did at the end of last year. 

In the age of the salary-cap, it isn’t just about what you do on the court, it’s about how much you are paid for it. Blatche’s deal is basically a $7M per year contract (with it being closer to $8M in the final years) for five years. The list below is of the forwards who averaged 16 to 19 ppg and 7 to 9 rpg  game last year, and their 2010-2011 salaries. 

  • Al Jefferson-$13M
  • Antawn Jamison-$13M
  • LaMarcus Aldridge-$10M
  • Luis Scola-$7.7M (beginning next season at the age of 31 he will make the following yearly $8.5M, 9.4M, 10.2M, 11M)

It looks like we got some value for our investment (btw Blatche is younger than each of the players above).

After this season Blatche would have been an unrestricted free agent and if he averaged even a 16 and 8 he would be expecting something in the range listed above (if you don’t believe me, just ask Amir Johnson, who signed a 5 year/$34M contract this off-season despite averaging a Darko Milicic-like 6 ppg and 4 rpg last year on a bad team). 

Any contract longer then a one-year deal is a calculated risk, but I think this is a good investment.  Blatche has said that he wants to be a Wizard and help build this team.  The Wizards need players who want to be here and build a contending team. 

Lastly, a lot of folks have gotten on Blatche about his bad attitude and childish behavior in the past (and rightfully so). But Blatche negotiated this contract himself without an agent, just hiring an attorney at an hourly rate to handle the language. That seems like a surprisingly mature move, so maybe Blatche is growing out of the moody undisciplined teenager in to an adult. Consider it his Bar Mitzvah.

By Box Seats blogger  | September 30, 2010; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Andray Blatche, Wizards  
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Comments

I thought Amar'e Stoudemire was the only NBA guy getting bar mitzvahed.

Posted by: drischord | September 30, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

If Dre puts up 18 and 8, he's an all-star. There's no telling how many points he will score, but I think 6 rebounds a game would be more realistic. He definately needs more minutes than he got last year overall which will be a big factor in his averages.

Posted by: bobilly2 | September 30, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Minutes? He played 40mpg after the trade. His stats are skewed because he played 15mpg prior to the trade.

If he only gets 6 rpg from our #4 spot next year, he's failed. We need 16/8/4 from him & he's ready to do just that. But it's notsomuch the raw numbers that I'm focusing on. It's the ability to pass out of the double team vs when to take the shot, that's the real issue. He has to go back to being low man on totem pole now that Gilbert will most likely be the team's #1 option. That's another issue. I just want to see him react in the right basketball sense when Wall kicks it down to him on the block. Is he doubled? Where's the double coming from? Who's open? Do I fake the pass? Give & go?

These are the steps that Blatche must take if he wants to elevate his game. The talent is undeniable. The basketball IQ has to improve, which should be automatic with Wall in town. The problem is, does that get canceled out by having Arenas out there too?

Much love Gilbert!

Posted by: KellRawLive | September 30, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

No chance Blatche averages 16 points--his line this year will be much closer to 12 points, 6 rebounds a game. As he has done in the past, Dray will disappear most nights, getting only about 9 or 10 points, and will explode once every 10 games for 20-25 points (just to tease Wizards fans, and torment the front office and coaching staff). In no universe would Blatche ever start on a championship team, which makes his signing (during our rebuilding phase) head scratching.

Posted by: jkahn001 | September 30, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Great article Lee,

I'd like to add something to those who don't believe in his physical skills: He's improved every year, he's 24 yrs old, and the man go SHOT IN THE chest 4 yrs ago. I mean c'mon, that'll set you back a little...

and he's still developed thus far. Plus I feel WINNING will solve a lot of those headcase problems.

Posted by: dochs1 | September 30, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

PLUS,

i dont like how everyone comments on the poor record we had while blatch was the #1 option last year..... NO one, not even MJ could have one w/javale mcgee, cartier martin, livingston, nick young and co...

c'mon. Blatche is the key.

Posted by: dochs1 | September 30, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The only how Andray Blatche makes an all star team is if he's playing in his own summer camp.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | September 30, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse


Actually, Blatche would have been an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012, not next year. I still like the decision to extend him now, however. Maturity has been his problem and you just have to hope that he has figured things out.

Posted by: tgif11 | October 1, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Was signing your best lowpost defender/passer/rebounder/low post scorer to an extension a good idea? I don't know, thats very iffy. The Wiz have Hilton Armstrong. Who else do you need?

Posted by: firemetalrat | October 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

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