Andray Blatche has played a huge role in the Nets’ success their first two seasons in Brooklyn. He’s been their leading scorer off the bench both seasons, and oddly enough -- he’s one of the lowest paid players on the roster. The problem with Blatche: inconsistency.
Blatche’s inconsistency is a mix of a ton of things. We know his talent is very broad, but he needs to play within himself. When he has position inside the paint, good things usually happen. We’ve seen him make plays that make us drop our jaws in awe. Where do you think he got the nickname ‘Dray Live’ from?
It’s really fun to watch him play, but it can also be very frustrating. When he’s outside the paint, he often makes many questionable decisions, including a variety of three pointers he threw up during the season at crucial points of certain games.
When Brook Lopez went down for the season, the Nets were limited with their options at center. Then, with Mason Plumlee playing so well during the season, the pressure on Blatche was very high. His play was imperative to the Nets’ game plan and without his offensive leadership off the bench, the second unit would’ve been caught in a lot [more] offensive jams throughout the season.
Check out the numbers:
Minutes per game
True Shooting percentage
Win Shares per 48
With Kevin Garnett averaging the lowest minutes per game in his career at 20, Blatche would see his minutes increase in his second year with the Nets. Under Avery Johnson & PJ Carlesimo, Blatche averaged 19 minutes per game, but saw it increase to 22 with Jason Kidd as his coach.
More minutes leads to more opportunities. Blatche displayed his deep repertoire with his 11 points per game average, digging deep in his bag of tricks to lead the way for the respective second unit. The 11 points per game was the third highest average of his nine-year career. Take note, the 22 minutes he received were the fifth lowest average of his career, it’s safe to say Blatche is very efficient.
There’s a lot to like here. Clearly his interior game is solid and with the help of his mid-range jump shot, Blatche gave defenders a lot to think about. One things certain: He needs to stop taking three pointers. He finished 28% from beyond the arc.
9 feet or less from the basket: 58%.
10-19 feet from the basket: 35%.
20+ feet: 36%.
Pretty clear what trend occurs here. He plays at his highest level close to the hoop. Still, the Nets played well with him on the floor.
His offensive rating per 100 possessions was rated at 104, not far fetched from his career high last season at 107. As you see above, PER 36 minutes, Blatche would average 18.8 points. The combination of his 46% field goal percentage, 28% from three, and 74% from the free throw line resulted in a true shooting percentage of 53.2%.
In the clutch: Despite Blatche’s offensive skill, he didn’t get much time during the late stages of the game. With three minutes or less remaining in a game with a range of five or below, Blatche shot 4-7, with two of the three misses from behind the perimeter.
The lack of time during crunch-time minutes may be evidence of Kidd’s inability to fully trust Blatche and his questionable decisions.
Favorite Moment of the Season:
He's had so many jaw-dropping plays, it's more important to appreciate the type of games the Nets' couldn't have won without his contributions. Through the first nine games of the postseason, the Nets' big men were really struggling. Game Three in the second round, Andray Blatche awoke and took complete advantage of Chris Bosh and the Heat's inability to cover down low. As you watch the video, look how confident Blatche looks. Taking it hard to the hole, getting fouled, and even following his misses that lead to second chance opportunities. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and helped the Nets take down the Heat,104-90.
This is where things get a bit complicated. As mentioned above, Blatche is one of the lowest paid Nets' players on the roster. With $196 million in salary, taxes and amnesty payments, it is hard to believe anybody's cheap, but it's true. The Nets owe Blatche a little over $1 million this season, but that doesn't mean his pockets are empty. The Washington Wizards amnestied Blatche, they still owe him over $8 million next season. His amnesty payment and vets minimum salary combined would guarantee him nearly $10 million next season.
For Brooklyn, they essentially got Blatche for free. Now, they will want they want him back when they have to pay?
He needs to ?
Play at a high level everybody knows he's capable of, with limiting the silly mistakes he makes. He's such a weapon off the bench of the offensive side, if he plays consistent basketball and improves his defensive mindset, he has the potential to be the sixth man of the year.
In the Future...
Whether he re-signs with the Nets or not he's bound to be successful no matter where he plays. His talent is unquestionable and ultimately will rise to the top. I do believe it would be wise for Blatche to return to Brooklyn next season and finish what he started. Assuming Kevin Garnett returns as well next season, Blatche will have Garnett and Brook Lopez to learn from. That's a very powerful frontline.