Andray Blatche is one of the newest potential weapons on the new and improved Brooklyn Nets bench. After signing a one-year deal on September 6, Blatche is working on getting himself into proper shape for this upcoming season.
Blatche, who previously spent seven seasons with the Washington Wizards, was a victim of the amnesty clause this past season.
His best professional season came in 2010-2011, a season in which he averaged 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
After regressing last season, however, Blatche comes with many question marks.
There is a chance that Blatche could carve out a niche for himself on the Nets' bench as they begin their tenure in Brooklyn, but there are many signs suggesting that this pairing will backfire for the Nets.
Blatche is very undersized at the center position.
Height is not the issue, as he stands at 6' 11". The problem is his lean build. At about 267 pounds, it's no secret as to why Blatche has problems holding his own defensively under the basket.
Blatche has never averaged double-digit rebounds in a single season, and when you disregard his 8.3 rebounds per game in 2010-2011, he's never averaged more than 6.3 boards per game.
He'll be playing a different role with the Nets, so no one is going to expect him to grab 10 boards a game. Regardless, reserve centers are often called upon to play defense.
Not many reserve big men are capable of providing instant offense for their teams, so Blatche will have to play solid defense and bring down some rebounds when he plays.
He has averaged 5.4 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game over the course of his career. Realistically, Blatche could be playing less than half of those minutes per game this season. Just two or three rebounds in 10 minutes of playing time is not going to cut it.
Blatche has had problems staying out of trouble in his NBA career, as there have been at least four incidents where things have gone terribly awry.
First, in September 2005, Blatche was shot during a carjacking attempt.
Then, in 2007, he was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer.
In January 2010, Blatche was suspended one game by then-head coach Flip Saunders for being belligerent and confrontational with the coaching staff.
In December of 2010, Blatche was suspended yet another game for getting into a fight with then-teammate JaVale McGee outside of a Washington nightclub.
Blatche is clearly a problem off the court, and has yet to learn how to handle the responsibility of being a professional athlete.
The last thing the Nets need this season is to deal with players who frequently commit acts that are detrimental to the team, especially when they have a real shot at moving back into contention.
In March of this past season, Wizards coach Randy Wittman made the decision to bench Blatche until he got himself into better shape.
He returned after missing over a month with a strained left calf, but his performance in about 16 minutes of action per game (5.1 points on 37.7 percent shooting and 3.3 rebounds) left much to be desired.
The leg injury probably had something to do with Blatche's lack of readiness, but plenty of players return from leg injuries without having to be benched just nine games later.
Staying in as good of shape as possible while injured is key for any athlete, and that's something that Blatche was clearly incapable of doing.
Blatche was able to attend home games and practices, but he was prohibited from traveling with the team.
Coming off the bench, Blatche will have to be able to provide fresh legs to the the team. If he's not in proper shape, there's no way he plays to his potential.
While Blatche has shown signs of selfishness with his various off-court incidents, I'll be focusing on his selfishness on the court for this slide.
Over the course of his career, Blatche has not been very good at setting up his teammates. In fact, he simply fails at creating shots for others—he has averaged more turnovers (1.7) than assists (1.5) per game in his NBA career.
Granted, centers generally aren't asked to do much passing. In that regard, I'm not completely deterred by his 1.5 assists per game, although I don't think anybody would be complaining if he doubled that number.
That being said, centers also aren't expected to turn the ball over 1.7 times per game, especially when you consider that Blatche has averaged less than 23 minutes per game in his career.
No matter how well he plays offensively, Blatche's inability to create and keep control of the ball are detrimental to the team's play.
It's plain and simple.
Last season, the Nets were ranked as the second-worst defense in the league.
To remedy that issue, the Nets should have brought in somebody who excels on defense. Blatche is not that player.
Blatche is slow. He also lacks the necessary conditioning, effort and instincts to play even average defense.
Factor in that he's not the true size of a center, and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster on defense.
Blatche is mostly a scorer, and that's a role that was filled this offseason by the acquisition of Joe Johnson and the re-signing of Deron Williams.
Brook Lopez is also considered a strict scorer, and he's equally as terrible on defense as Blatche.
There's no doubt in my mind that Blatche could still be useful to a club at this point in his career. He's just 26 years old, so there's plenty of time to fix his problems.
At this point in time, though, he's just not what the Nets need.