The Washington Wizards have limped out of the starting gate to the worst record in the entire NBA and have been the most disappointing team to date. While many highlight the early struggles of John Wall, the only consistency this season has been the inconsistency displayed by Andray Blatche.
After coming into the season with rave reviews and strong support from coach Flip Saunders in naming him a team captain, Blatche had subsequently lost his starting spot to second year player Trevor Booker, only to regain it last night in the Wizards stunning upset of the league-best Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, Blatche was booed tremendously throughout the game and while he ended up with a double-double, he continued to struggle with his shooting percentage from the field. This was a result of Blatche settling for jump shots and not attacking the basket after being blocked earlier in the game by Serge Ibaka.
Prior to the game, coach Saunders brought in a marine officer to talk to the team about team work and having a good support system.
The officer's words seemed to have effect as the players huddled around center Javale McGee after he missed a string of four free throws in the final minutes of the game.
Wall has exploded out of his slump these past three games, and with the emergence of Jordan Crawford last night in a great effort off the bench, it will be extremely important for Blatche as the “team leader” to limit his shot attempts but continue to rebound hard and play good defense in order to solidify the team's effort on the court.
While it seems the majority of Wizards fans are behind the idea of getting rid of Blatche as soon as possible, there is a very likely possibility that he will at least finish up the season here before any change is made.
In the last two games for the Wizards, the win over the Thunder and the close loss to the Houston Rockets, Blatche still played considerable minutes (34 mpg), but took less shots and ended up with a double-double in points and rebounds to end the game.
The key to the improved play of the Wizards team as a whole starts with the pick and roll offense initiated by Wall and with Blatche being more selective in his shots, looking to create better opportunities for his teammates instead of trying to do it himself on offense.
There has been little to praise the team for thus far this season. But with a committed Blatche on board, he can lead by keeping his mouth shut and going out night in and night out and making smart, hustle plays. That might earn back fan's appreciation and would show the team that he truly cares about the end result of each and every game.