Blatche making most of opportunity

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Washington forward Andray Blatche has always had the talent. Blatche is a sturdy 6-11, and has a long wingspan and excellent athleticism for his size. He’s also an uncommonly skilled player for his size, able to hit the mid-range jumper, and put the ball on the floor. When Blatche has gone inside, he’s even showed some very nice post moves around the basket.

Drafted straight out of high school, the 23-year old Blatche is already playing in his fifth NBA season. During those five years, Blatche has gained a reputation as somewhat of a disappointing NBA player. He’s been a summer-league dynamo who will show flashes of greatness, but has yet to put it all together at the NBA level. He would drift in and out of games, and would sometimes get caught up trying to be to pretty rather than using his size and taking the ball right at the rim. Blatche’s career high in points is 10.0, he’s never shot better than 50%, and he’s never averaged more than two free throw attempts per game.

Since the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison, Blatche has come on strong. In the four games since Jamison left the lineup, Blatche has scored 24 or more points three times, and pulled down 11 or more rebounds three times. He’s still using his mid-range touch, but is also making a more concerted effort to go to the basket. He was 8-11 at the rim during his breakout 33-point game against the Timberwolves, and went to the line 9 times when the Wizards beat the Bulls last night. Blatche is picking his shots wisely, and has shot better than 50% from the field in each of the four games since Jamison left.

If Blatche can continue to play this way, he can be a major building block for the Wizards going forward. Additionally, second-year center JaVale McGee might have even more natural talent than Blatche, but has been even more erratic over the course of his brief career. If he can get with the program like Blatche has, the Wizards could have a very scary young starting frontcourt.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.