TrueHoop: Andray Blatche

Tuesday Bullets

March, 19, 2013
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
  • How the Toronto Raptors translate findings from SportVU into practice, and some of the thorny issues that arise in the process.
  • Jeremy Gordon of Brooklyn's Finest on the Nets' enigmatic combo of Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks: "There’s something that gets me really giddy about Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks playing together, just a couple of guys trying to take and make the most ridiculous shots possible. Do you think the playful experimentation extends to their personal lives? Like they just sit there, trading implausible feats—eating 100 McNuggets without anything to drink, playing a season of Madden with one’s feet, reading War & Peace without stopping—to see who will be the first one to back down."
  • A few years ago, we witnessed Jason Kidd draw a foul on then-Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Now check out this sequence from France of a coach trying to strip the ball away from an opposing player in a tie game and fewer than three seconds remaining. The best part? The shameless "who me?" plea from the coach when he gets whistled for the technical foul.
  • Kate Fagan with a smart piece on Baylor's 6-foot-7 star Brittney Griner, and how players of a certain size and skill set often breed resentment among fans and opponents.
  • In an interview with CNN's Rachel Nichols, LeBron James has some cheeky, good-natured fun at the expense of Pat Riley, who was on the 1971-72 Lakers team that won 33 games in a row.
  • Couldn't help but think about Kenneth Faried when I read this piece in Scientific American. The gist: "Individual stories will have a far greater sway on our attitudes, intentions, and behavior than any long list of numbers, statistics, and facts." Would a baller from Newark who went to college in rural Kentucky be the most vocal advocate on gay equality if he didn't grow up in a same-sex household?
  • Andres Alvarez of Wages of Wins delineates between big data and useful data and the challenge of eating the elephant: "The problem I see is that there is not enough emphasis on seeing what value the data has, and seeing how to use it. There is a huge emphasis on collecting more data though. We’re in love with this! Teams got the boxscore in the 1970s because they needed better stats ... Then the 2000s saw us get easier access to play by play. And we’re now getting access to visual tracking data of every movement on the court! And yet, through all of the 'revolutions,' I’m not seeing teams slow down to see if the data is useful or how to use it. No, I’m seeing that the trend is to grab more data! As soon as we get more data, the argument goes, we’ll finally understand the NBA. Except, very few people understand the data we have now!"
  • Raleigh-born, Chapel Hill-educated Danny Nowell kindly requests that you stop bashing college basketball during this holiest of months.
  • Yesterday, National Public Radio's Tom Moon referred to Justin Timberlake's new album, "The 20/20 Experience" as the bland product of a musician who is "too big to fail." On Twitter, the Hornets' Ryan Anderson solicits your opinion on 20/20. Andrew Unterberger of The Basketball Jones has your Top 10 Timberlake basketball moments.
  • Actual video evidence that Adrian Dantley is serving as a crossing guard for a middle school in suburban Washington, DC.
  • John Sabine of BallerBall catches up with the Sonics' former mascot, Squatch. Well, sort of.
  • Derrick Williams is a large man and requires more carbohydrates than your average lunchtime customer.

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

  • The Knicks' Toney Douglas continued to struggle shooting the ball, but he performed his primary function as floor general quite well. He gave the Knicks what they needed at the point -- game management, penetration and kicking, creating for others, and, most of all, solid on-ball defense at that position. Douglas now has 21 assists to only two turnovers in his two games. Not bad for a guy who started out as a combo guard. 
  • Austin Daye The Pistons' order of the Daye
    (Garrett Ellwood/NBA via Getty Images)

  • Jordan Hill is at his strongest when he's facing up to the basket, but too often he rushes himself when he has the ball in the post. Several times on Wednesday, he lost track of where he was on the block, then flung an off-balanced shot up from close range. Hill also seemed a little passive as a post defender, even against the likes of Trent Plaisted. Hill stayed in close proximity on defense to his assigned man, but rarely tried to knock his guy off his spot. In general, the closer Hill was to the basket, the less comfortable he was.
  • You have to love a player who's useful at any spot on the court. Austin Daye is that guy for Detroit. He's a new wave three -- able to work as the ballhandler on the pick-and-roll, drive to the cup from the perimeter, post up against most small forwards, use a screen the right way, and hit from long range. Against the Knicks on Wednesday, he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. 
  • DaJuan Summers was the butter and egg man down low for the Pistons. I can't quite figure out whether to classify him as a small or power forward. IMG's Mike Moreau referred to him as a "Power 3." Whatever he is, Summers continued to leverage his ability to face up for opportunities to get inside. There's a lot of offensive weaponry there, and he can clean the glass, too. His scoring line: 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field, and 5-for-7 from the stripe. 
  • Joe Alexander did a much better job off-the-ball finding space on the floor where teammates could hit him for open looks -- not just on the perimeter, but in Scola-territory along the baseline at 15 feet. The Alexander-Taj Gibson matchup was an interesting one and it was anything but a pitching duel. Alexander finished 9-for-16 from the field, Gibson 6-for-9. Gibson was able to exploit his length against Alexander, while Alexander used his versatility and triple-threat skills to beat Gibson. Meanwhile, Gibson became the second player in Summer League to rack up 10 fouls. The Spurs' Ian Mahinmi was the first Tuesday against Denver. Gibson now has 19 fouls in two games. 
  • Summer League is the perfect setting for an athlete like Amir Johnson to show off his wares under the basket. Johnson was an efficiency machine inside for the Bucks: 17 points on 11 possessions, along with eight rebounds. He owned the paint, gobbling up offensive boards, going up strong with the putbacks, either converting or getting fouled (11 free throw attempts for the game). Defensively, he was smart and physical, blocking shots and igniting breaks with sharp, quick outlet passes to Brandon Jennings
  • After sitting out Phoenix's first Summer League game on Monday with back spasms, Earl Clark displayed his full range of skills in his inaugural effort on Wednesday. He initiates the bulk of his offense along the perimeter, but he can do so many things from there to disarm the defense: a pretty touch pass into the post off a dish from his point guard, a catch-and-shoot, a dribble drive and pass-off that results in a hockey assist. He also showed his defensive flexibility, bothering guards and bigs alike.  
  • DeMar DeRozan is far more polished than advertised. He uses his quickness to build his game. As Mike Moreau said in David Thorpe's twitter thread, "Demar DeRozan really comes off the curl with speed, balance and elevation-very controlled. Will come off a decade's worth of pindowns."  He also rarely takes a bad shot -- uncommon among rookies and in Summer League, and particularly uncommon among rookies in Summer League. 
  • Jason Thompson was an entirely different player Wednesday. He claimed his spot down on the block, called for the ball, forced the action off the dribble, made hard back cuts when he was fronted, backed his guy in with force when he wasn't, and worked his tuchus off on the offensive glass. His totals: 31 points and 10 rebounds. 
  • Tyreke Evans didn't start for the Kings against the D-League Select team, and was very deferential when he checked in at the start of the second quarter and throughout the second half. He went 1-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 from the line, with three assists in 23 minutes. Despite the off night, the change of speed on his dribble-drives was still ungodly.
  • Chase Budinger has a beautiful stride into his catch-and-shoot motion -- we know that -- but Wednesday night he also showed the athleticism to put it on the deck, weave through traffic, and finish strongly. He moved well without the ball to get open looks, and even absorbed a few bumps on defense to stay in front of his man, something he'll have to do this fall to stay in the Rockets' rotation.
  • Andray Blatche continues to be  one of the most confounding talents in the league. He flashed moments of sheer dominance Wednesday night with swift, whirling post moves off good recognition that made his defenders look silly. At other times, he tried to improvise and failed spectacularly. Blatche could be a top-shelf talent, but his preference for raw instinct over tactical strategy on a given play renders him inconsistent. He needs a plan. Still, between the potent face-up game at the top of the key, and the fancy footwork and explosiveness down low, it's hard to take your eyes off him. Let's see how he fares this season against NBA talent.
  • Dante Cunningham: NBA body, NBA aggressiveness, NBA defense ... NBA player? He didn't put up the most efficient line of the night (22 points on 23 possessions), but his physicality made the Rockets' defense work. He often chose to back his defender in with a dribble or two, then launch a mid-range jumper with good elevation. When he recognized there was something better, he'd build a head of steam and get to the rim. More than anything, he was out there with a purpose, moving with the offense, mindful of where Jerryd Bayless was at all times. 

Monday Bullets

August, 6, 2007
  • Shira Springer of the Boston Globe has an amazing account of the trade talks that led to Kevin Garnett landing in Boston. Turns out a key figure was ... Tyronn Lue?: "Back in Los Angeles a few days later, Garnett sought the counsel of his best friends, Detroit's Chauncey Billups and Atlanta's Tyronn Lue. Garnett has an offseason home in Malibu, Calif., Billups was in LA for an Adidas photo shoot with Garnett. Lue spends about a month with Garnett in Malibu every summer, though he was in the city to have his right knee scoped July 17 by the Lakers' team doctor. The trio discussed the teams interested in Garnett -- Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, the Lakers, and Phoenix -- and which presented the best scenario for the 10-time All-Star. Billups and Lue helped convince Garnett that Boston would be a good place to play, recognizing what the power forward could add to a mix that already included Pierce and Allen. Also, Lue endorsed Doc Rivers as a coach, having played briefly for him in Orlando at the start of the 2003-04 season. 'I talked to KG and it was tough at first because he's so loyal to Minnesota, his family, friends, and the fans,' said Lue, who was spotted at an LA tennis tournament with Garnett July 20. 'All he knew was Minnesota for the last 12 years. I thought Boston would be a great situation, a perfect situation with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. I thought automatically they'd be in the Eastern Conference finals with KG. He thought about it and asked, 'You think so?' I said, 'Yeah.' 'Then, Chauncey came out and said, 'You have to take the best thing for you and that's playing in Boston, even though we'd be in the same conference and play four times a year.' We definitely convinced him to choose Boston because two great players were already in place. Adding KG and being in the Eastern Conference, it'd be easier to win. 'Then, KG asked me, 'What about the city?' I said, 'You don't go out anyway, so it doesn't matter. You don't go out of the house. You could play in Alaska.' He's like, 'Yeah, you're right.'"
  • The Clippers were young and promising, weren't they, back when they dueled mano a mano with the Suns in the playoffs. Then their ascendant perimeter player, Shaun Livingston, tore up his knee, and now Elton Brand is in serious medical trouble, too. Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog: "As a general principle, I don't subscribe to curses, superstition, and mystical theories about sports franchises. Mythology is fun, but basketball games are won and lost for empirical reasons that have little to do with the script embroidered across a jersey. Now, if your favorite franchise sucks to no end, chances are it's not a goat or the haunting presence of a bad trade that's the problem. It's far more likely that your team's front office can't manage a smart playlist, much less an amateur draft, player evaluation, or a contract negotiation. All that said, I confess that, between Shaun's broken twig and this Elton debacle, I'm beginning to entertain the notion that there is a force in the world larger than James Naismith at work here." Arnovitz later wonders (PG-13 for language) if Sofoklis Schortsanitis, the Greek Baby-Shaq the team drafted in 2003, might ride in to the rescue. Probably not on the court, he concludes but possibly off it.
  • Introducing Liston: "One of the great things about sports is all of the really intelligent arguments that take place in sports bars across America. I recently participated in one such 'bar-gument' over who was the greatest basketball player over the last 10 years. There were three post graduate statistics majors and myself. Each of us was arguing a case for one of four players; Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and Ralph Macchio (a.k.a. The Karate Kid. I know it's ridiculous but Phil the statistician swears he played Ralph Macchio in a 1 on 1 game in 1991 and was crushed by him 10-1. He has been talking about this game for 16 years so we had to include him.)" (I swear, anyone who thinks this thing is serious needs to have their fan license revoked and whatever organ is responsible for humor examined by highly paid professionals.)
  • A basketball point shaving scandal in the Phillipines.
  • Chicago was hoping to get lots of big names, and may end up with none.
  • Time to shine up the Paul Pierce legacy.
  • The case that the Minnesota tax money that should have gone to stuff like fixing bridges went instead to sports stadiums.
  • Iran wins the Asian championships.
  • LeBron James's friend Maverick Carter's marketing company signs an NFL player.
  • Mike Trudell of the Timberwolves' website, as quoted by Jim Eichenhofer on "I was on the Wolves Caravan around smaller Minnesota towns with Ricky Davis, and RD pulled a few stupidly difficult dunks at 9 a.m. because a few kids asked him once. When I say stupidly difficult, I mean they looked like dunks from Playstation II's 'NBA Streetz.' {Corey] Brewer can do some silly things as well, but Gerald Green? Man. If you kids out there that are set for the SAT analogy section get this question, you'll know what to do: 'Gerald Green is to dunking as Jessica Alba is to hot.' That would be true."
  • Gilbert Arenas did a bad thing when he stole that joke. I totally believe that. His explanation was lame. But it was a small bad thing, that he quickly made better by acknowledging that he had stolen it. I'm over it, but not everyone is.
  • Ivan Carter of the Washington Post says the details are still being worked out in the Juan Carlos Navarro trade: "The Wiz are getting a first rounder but I'm not sure about the lottery protection."
  • One of those "read this article and you'll like this player" articles. This one's about Greg Oden, who is doing two things that strike me as really smart: Buying a furnished house nearish his work (saves hundreds of hours driving and getting the living situation sorted out) and living on a real budget. He has been made fun of for that, but I've got news for you: Living without some kind of budget is just not smart, no matter how much you earn.
  • I get a fair amount of angry mail. Which makes me think that those NBA loose cannons like, say, FOXSports' Charley Rosen, must get a ton of hate mail. Rosen's post today (after he gets done naming all-time teams from cer
    tain cities) makes me think I'm right: "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with being a spirited sports fan. Loyalty, passion, the appreciation of details and trends, of grace under pressure, and just plain fun are some of the wonderful rewards resulting from a total immersion in a ball game. Even the 'agony of defeat' can be instructive. However, when a fan (which is shorthand for 'fanatic') invests too much emotion in what is after all a vicarious pastime, it becomes easy to cross the line that separates enthusiasm from madness. One symptom of the overly rabid sports fan (or zealots of any persuasion) is a tendency to demonize anyone who has a different view. The problem with blind devotion is that it sees any form of criticism as a mortal threat. Critics (no matter how valid their credentials might be) get branded as 'haters,' and much noise is made demanding their resignation and their dismissal, and suggestions are even made that they commit suicide. It's past time for all of us to simmer down. Instead of venting our vengeance on trifles, let us open our minds and hearts to diversity and tolerance, which are indeed the basis of the only meaningful American Dream. Let us root-root-root for the home team, then respect both the winners and the losers. If we can accomplish these admirable goals, then perhaps the loyal citizens of Sports America can set an example that every one of us living in this great country can be proud to follow."
  • Reporter to team president: Stop vacationing.
  • Flickers of life in efforts to keep the Sonics in Seattle, and the suggestion that grassroots activism has scored some victories. Seattle Times Columnist Steve Kelley is calling you out, Sonic fans.
  • Yao Ming reportedly got married today, with a 1:1 guest/security guard ratio. Photo of the happy couple.
  • In a Richard Deitsch interview on, Dan Patrick looks back: "I did challenge Michael Jordan to a one-on-one contest after he won the title in Utah. He would come in every year after they won the championship to do an interview. So he stood up and I said, Mike, you know what, maybe we'll play one-on-one. I think I can score on you. He had a Cuban cigar in his hand, a basketball and one of his shoes he had already given to the p.r. guy of the Bulls. He turned to me quickly and said, How would you play me? I put my forearm in his back and he smacked it away like it was a gnat. He gave me the look. I even asked Steve Kerr about it. I said, I think I got the look from Jordan. He said, You don't want the look. I said I got it. He said, How did you know you got the look? I said, Well, I wanted to play him one-on-one. He said, Oh, you got the look."
  • Wizznutzz with thoughtful reflections, as always, on the Andray Blatche situation. (I'd say it's PG-13, but it's more just straight crazy!) And you have to watch the team-produced video in which Donnell Taylor and Andray Blatche talk at some length about picking up women. There's even talk about sharing women. This world we live in is crazy.
  • Mark Cuban is cheering for Barry Bonds. "Barry Bonds has had the misfortune of winding up his career and tying the record in the generation of Massive Media. The last 10 years, with the advent of satellite TV, digital cable, the Internet and even camera phones, have placed every minute of Barry (and most prominent figures) lives under continuous scrutiny. Unlike the legendary stories in baseball history that were never made public at the time they happened to protect the player involved, today there is a 'bounty of fame' on any person or outlet who can catch Barry in anything that can be sold to an Internet site or any of the sports TV networks across the country. The escalation of scrutiny, even since late 90's annual Home Run Derbies , has been dramatic. Everything is on video these days. Barry, rather than taking the 'film me please, I'm a celebrity' approach to media scrutiny, has done everything he possibly can to live his life on his own terms. He hasn't been media friendly. He has been family friendly... to his own family. I respect that to no end."
  • UPDATE: I was reading the SportsFrog when I learned something shocking: that according to media in upstate New York Andray Blatche says he was not arrested for solitication of protitution, but instead his friend was (and Blatche was merely hauled in for that outstanding driving without a license thing). Although the Associated Press and Washington Post have covered this story like a blanket, and it seemed impossible such a major fact like that could have been confused, I put in a call and confirmed with the U.S. Attorney's office that Blatche is facing a hearing on August 31 for prostitution/sexual solicitation. Yet again we wonder, what was Andray Blatche thinking? UPDATE: Raw details straight from the police report.
  • UPDATE: In Thailand, misbehaving police officers are reportedly being shamed into good behavior by being forced to wear pink Hello Kitty armbands. Wouldn't it be great if NBA teams did that too? Coach Musselman got a DUI? Here's your armband, wear it in good health. Referee made a bad call late in a game? Stick this pink thing on your arm for a week or two. Andray Blatche could wear two of them.

There are lots of off-the-record stories about stuff like this.

And a few on the record, like the story the other day including allegations that after a few years in the NBA, Nene had a negative net worth.

On his blog, the Washington Post's Ivan Carter has similar tales about Andray Blatche:

I heard from a good source that the kid was sleeping at Verizon Center for several nights as rookie because he couldn't pay rent ... I had a conversation about Andray with a player recently and the player nailed it: "He's wild with the money he has now so what's going to happen if you give that guy millions? I have no idea what's going to happen but it's gonna be interesting." 

Andray Blatche. You work your whole life to make the NBA. You work your whole rookie contract just to make sure you stay on a roster to get to that second deal, where the real money is.

You reportedly have an offer on the table. It's show time. All you have to do is keep your act together. Make sure nothing crazy happens.

Then something crazy happens.

Who knows if you did anything wrong this time? Innocent until proven guilty.

But isn't the best course of action not to even be there? This would be a great month to spend evenings working on that jumper, or really catching up on your videogames and your Netflix. For a guy who has already endured a shooting, at some point isn't the urge there just to be a little cautious?

The police say you and a friend were in front of a downtown hotel past midnight. And the part that really kills me: They also say that when you showed up at court, you were already wanted, because you failed to appear after you got in trouble for driving without a license.

If you're not careful, people are going to think that you have bad judgment.

Yes, I imagine you'll skate through this one OK. But you only get so many of these kinds of mistakes, and you just used up another one.

I hope there are some smart people in your life (start with the ones who were telling you to make sure to go to court over that license thing) and I hope you'll be listening to them more than ever.

Because if you can just bring yourself to be good on the court, and boring off it, there could be a special life ahead for you. Ivan Carter writes in the Washington Post:

Wizards veterans have alternately marveled at Blatche's talent and expressed concern about a lack of maturity and decision-making.

"Andray's not a bad kid but he's young and he's going to have to grow up quick if he's going to reach his potential because it's there, everyone can see that," said one player who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I know this has to hurt Ernie because [Andray's] his guy. He drafted him and he's been patient with him all along. Which way is Andray going to go?"

One Western Conference general manager who has followed Blatche since his rookie year said the Wizards are not alone in seeing Blatche's potential.

"He would be big for them," said the executive, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. "He was about to enter, what, his third year? He was about to graduate from young, potential ballplayer to an actual ballplayer."

Be a real shame to miss that -- and it has happened plenty of times before. There's no such thing as a can't miss NBA prospect, especially among guys who average 3.7 points per game. This could all end way sooner than you want it to.

Please be boring for a while off the court. We want to see you play basketball.

UPDATE: On his blog, the Washington Post's Ivan Carter says that even Blatche's shooting was (in some fashion I don't totally understand) attributable to poor judgment:

It's no secret in Verizon Center circles that Dre Day enjoys the night life -- even after getting lucky two years ago when some crafty females suckered him and Peter John Ramos into getting jacked by two thugs in the early morning hours. Dre lived after getting shot but it's hard to tell whether he's really learned anything.