Andray Blatche says he’s totally matured

2 Comments

Andray Blatche has a world of talent. Long, with scoring versatility and an offensive viciousness, he’s not lacking for ability. But he’s never shown the mental component to cash in on the talent. Consider that as a stretch four in the first year after of his mega-extension, he shot 32% from the 16-23 range. He struggled with injuries last year, which would be a decent excuse, except that he shot 39 percent the year before. A 75-year-old Kevin Garnett shot 47 percent from that same spot last year. He shot 32 percent in ISO situations according to Synergy, 36 percent in the post, 46 percent on spot-up opportunities. His 16.9 PER is above-average,but nothing to get super-excited about. In short, Blatche has not exhibited a stellar savvy game or high level of efficiency offensively.

Stunningly, his defensive numbers from Synergy are pretty good. Allowed just 36 percent in the pick and roll as the big defender, 47 percent in the post, and 41 percent in ISO. His overall .86 points per possession is actually in the 65th percentile. So again, there’s some talent there.

But what has always been in question is whether or not he’s willing to work to mature into a complete player, and whether he’ll put away the things that keep him distracted off the court. The Washington Post has a feature with Blatche in which he proclaims a lot of things that you want to hear if you’re a Wizards fan. Most notably, he talks about how he has separated himself from certain friends who were the cause of trouble. He even apologized for taking so long to realize it, which is a remarkably mature move.

But if you’re looking for him to apologize for his appearance at a Miami club event billed as “Lap Dance Tuesday” you’ve got another thing coming. Because All-Day Dray is more than happy to clear that little situation up.

“That’s the one thing that kind of got me frustrated,” he said. “People were like, ‘Aw, he’s at a strip club!’ Or ‘He’s at a party where they give lap dances!’ That was far from the case. It wasn’t even close to the case. Everybody down in Miami knows that on Tuesday nights it’s a club called Cameo. It’s a club. Like if you go to Park, Josephine or Love here. On Tuesdays, it’s their theme. That’s how it is. It was a regular club. There were no lap dances involved. Nobody got no lap dances, no nothing.

“Why is everybody tripping on me hosting a party?” Blatche asked. “I host parties in D.C. all the time and I get no problem out of it. I went to Miami and it’s the offseason. The season is over. I’m just at a party and I get this. That was the craziest thing. I was like, I must have a target on my back, because if I can’t go to Miami and host a party and have fun with my friends, what can I do?”

via Andray Blatche: ‘I have to make changes’ – Wizards Insider – The Washington Post.

You know, it’s easy to point fingers and make judgments. But I’ve been to a half-dozen bachelor parties and a half-dozen guys’ weekends. I’ve partied and done stupid things and I’ve been responsible enough to not let them affect my professional life. Blatche was busted in 2007 for soliciting a prostitute, but still. If Blatche says he’s trying to make changes, he deserves the support of fans.

But he’s still pretty defensive of his right to party. Perhaps he heard a Beastie Boys song.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

2 Comments

Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

Leave a comment

James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.