Andray Blatche Needs To Kick It Into Gear This Year For the Washington Wizards

1:28 PM, Dec 14, 2011   |    comments
Washington Wizards power forward Andray Blatche (7) against the New Jersey Nets during the first half at the Verizon Center. (Credit: Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE)
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WASHINGTON (The Wiz Kid/WUSA) -- Tumultuous, chaotic, newsworthy and yet full of basketball potential, can you believe that Andray Blatche is entering his seventh season with the Washington Wizards?

I actually can't. So I've put together a comprehensive timeline on his career so far in Washington, with some commentary from myself on a few of the events.

*June 28, 2005: The Wizards take a second round flier on Andray Blatche, a 6-foot-11 forward from Syracuse, New York. Washington's first round pick was used in a previous trade to obtain center Brendan Haywood.

*September 25, 2005: Blatche was shot in the chest area while riding in his car in Alexandria, VA. He was released from the hospital after three days but missed all of training camp. I have no idea how this happened but would it surprise you if Blatche instigated this incident? He was just 19-years-old at the time too. Of course I'm glad he recovered but I wish I could relive that moment.

*November 11, 2005: Blatche's rookie debut includes five points in a win over the Seattle Supersonics. Blatche would just play in 29 NBA games in 2005 and primarily suited up for the Roanoke Dazzle in the NBDL. A source who played on that team told me Blatche had the worst attitude of ay basketball player he'd ever been around.

*2006-2007 season: This feels like it was decades ago. The Wizards finished 41-41, good for a fifth seed in the dreadful east. The team even finished 12th in the NBA in attendance. Gilbert Arenas averaged 28.6 points per game. Blatche played in 56 games on the year, starting 13 of them at center with injuries to Etan Thomas and Michael Ruffin. Blatche even saw 12.5 minutes per game of playoff action against LeBron James and his Cavaliers.

*August 2, 2007: Blatche was arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer for sex. The charges were later dropped after Blatche followed court orders.

*2007-2008 season: Now a third year pro, Blatche plays in all 82 games for the Wizards averaging 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.4 minutes a game. The Wizards need him to hone his post skills while Blatche has plans of becoming a do-it-all scoring small forward.

*June 4, 2008: Blatche was arrested on charges for speeding and driving for a third time with a suspended license.

*April 10, 2010: Embarrassingly,Blatche is angry that he didn't record a triple-double in a win over the Raptors. This became memorable mind-sticking moment for those who consider who wonder whether the Wizards will re-sign the polarizing forward in the offseason.

*September 24, 2010: This Wizards organization commits five years and $35 million to Andray Blatche. General manager Ernie Grunfeld becomes forever associated with keeping Blatche around.

*December 26, 2010: Wizards suspend both Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee for conduct detrimental to the team. The two reportedly exchanged punches and obscenities in a DC club.

*February 24, 2011: Blatche's jersey is misspelled. What are the odds this was done on purpose?

*February 28, 2011: Following a 28-point defeat and the team's sixth straight loss, Blatche decided it was time to respond to his haters on Twitter, even challenging one to a fight. The tweet read: "Like I said I'm done with this fake internet thing if u wanna meet me after the game Saturday I can throw these things." Blatche later would announce that his account was "hacked." Not the ideal PR scenario the Wizards want to have.

*May 2, 2011: Blatche hosts an event called "Lapdance Tuesday" at a club in Miami.

*June 28, 2011: Blatche joins several NFL players on a mission trip to Jamaica and launches the Andray Blatche Foundation. He donates $50,000, sneakers and basketballs to local Jamaican schools.

*September 10, 2011: Blatche is quoted in a story from the Washington Post insider Michael Lee saying "I'm sorry that it took so long for me to realize it, but it's all about growing and maturing and that's basically what I'm doing."

*September 12, 2011: Blatche organizes Wizards practices during the lockout.

*November 11, 2011: Blatche hands out turkeys at the Laurel boys and girls club for several hours. Blatche joined veteran Roger Mason Jr.

Whew. You made it through. Blatche has glaring problems for someone paid $35 million in order to make your franchise jump to the next level. He's lackadaisical on defense, tries to create for himself too much on offense, and've read plenty about the off the court shenanigans listed above.

But his numbers -- outside of last season's field goal percentage -- have kept improving throughout the years with more playing time. On paper, Blatche is an attractive player with room to grow. There's two ways I can see the Andray Blatche story writing itself.

Option A is the now the A-typical Washington sports scenario. Blatche will either have another serious run in with the law, a detrimental feud with coach Flip Saunders or something, you know? Blatche will let some kind of distraction get in the way of him becoming a great player and the disgruntled Wizards will trade him for a dozen of peaches.

Option B is the feel good story. Suppose if Blatche turned himself into a Zach Randolph. For a long time in his career, Randolph had a series of run-ins with the law and fights with teammates. Like a light bulb, something eventually clicked with Randolph upon his arrival Memphis. He finally grew tired of being the selfish guy that filled the stat sheet. Randolph bought into the team concept over himself.  

I'm completely torn on what will become of Andray Blatche, but I'll lean towards option A. I just can't picture him being a force on a Wizards playoff team. Opponents clearly know Blatche's weaknesses on the court. I will say though that its apparent he's done some soul searching this offseason.

Regardless, his every move and word will be analyzed in 2012. 

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