It might surprise you to know Andray Blatche is a team captain for the Washington Wizards. The sometimes moody Blatche is a middling player, averaging a career-high 16.8 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game, although he shot just 44.5 percent from the floor and seemed to favor his mid-range jumper more than any post moves he might have.
But Blatche is a team captain, and you expect him to be something of a leader. After the Wizards’ first game Monday night against the Nets, Blatche vented some frustration with how he is used. It was a sign that the young Blatche may not quite be ready for the leadership role he has assumed.
Blatche can be a frustrating player to watch. More than 40 percent of his jumpers came from 10-23 feet. A seven-footer probably should be doing more work around the rim.
And Blatche knows that. It seems to be the source of his frustration. Against the Nets, he scored 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Only one of those shots came at the rim and five came within nine feet, according to HoopData. Six of his shots were from 16-23 feet and he made just two of them.
Blatche was upset that coach Flip Saunders seemed to use him more in pick-and-pop situations rather than in post ups. But that is also the kind of individualized attitude Saunders lamented after his team lost a 24-7 lead in the first quarter and eventually lost to New Jersey.
“He probably was talking about me for the simple fact that I said I need the ball in the paint to be effective,” Blatche told Gene Wang of The Washington Post after Monday’s loss. “You can’t keep having me pick and pop and shooting jumpshots. Gimme the ball in the paint. That’s where I’m most effective at. 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.”
Blatche came back Wednesday in Atlanta to go 2 for 13 from the floor and score only four points. According to HoopData, Blatche did work more closer to the basket with six attempts at the rim and seven shots within nine feet to four shots from 16-23 feet. His poor shooting in that area — and really all areas — is the only source of concern for the young center after two consecutive “bad” games.
Give Blatche some credit for recognizing something was not working and trying to fix it. He put words to action in Wednesday’s game it seems, even if he was unable to score.
But this is probably not the most productive way to communicate with your coach. Certainly, it is not the action a captain should be taking.
Michael Lee of The Washington Post reported Blatche snuck out of the practice facility without facing reporters Tuesday, hiding behind his explanation on Twitter that he was not calling out coaches but simply stating he had a bad game and needed to go into the post more himself. After all, it is the roll player who has to read the defense and decide whether to pop out for a jumper or dive down into the post. That all depends on the play.
The two reportedly tried to hash out whatever differences there might have been before Tuesday’s practice. Saunders was actually happy that Blatche was trying to commit himself to post up more and score in a more efficient manner.
Still, do you want discontent from one of your team’s supposed leaders? A guy who supposedly earned his status as the team’s captain?
That does not seem to be a good place for the young Wizards to be. This is still a rebuilding team, maybe using Blatche as the team’s captain and model is not the best idea for a growing team.
It is still a rough growing process for the young Wizards. Especially if Blatche remains the captain of this fledgling ship.