Why Andray Blatche Would Be a Good Addition for the Miami Heat
Andray Blatche has emerged as one of the most unlikely stars from this summer’s FIBA World Cup in Spain playing for the Philippines. He was third of all players in the group phase of the tournament in scoring at 21.2 points per game and first in rebounding with 13.8 boards per contest. He posted double-doubles in all five of his games played (the only player in the tournament to do so) before his team was eliminated from making the knockout round with a 1-4 record.
Now that he has clued up his duties in Spain, he’s headed back to the US to sort out his NBA situation for next season. He remains one of the few impact players left in unrestricted free agency and has reportedly emerged as a target for a Miami Heat team that’s still picking up the pieces at the start of their post-LeBron era.
It’s not like posting inflated numbers on a Philippines team devoid of NBA talent will necessarily translate into All-Star votes for Blatche this season, but he could still be an excellent fit for a Heat team that is relatively thin upfront, despite a bevy of offseason moves.
The signing of Josh McRoberts represents an underrated addition for the team and Chris Bosh being back in the fold along with Chris “Birdman” Andersen makes for a formidable frontcourt trio at first glance. Once you look past Bosh and McBob as starters, however, Birdman’s limited offensive skill set paired with an aging Udonis Haslem on the second unit does little to instil confidence. What’s more, beyond a solid starting five of Bosh, McBob, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Mario Chalmers, the best scorer off the bench for the Heat currently projects to be what’s left of Danny Granger.
Bringing in Blatche’s proficiency on the offensive end to anchor the second unit could go a long way in helping the Heat stay near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. In two seasons as a sub in Brooklyn, Blatche posted decent averages in 155 games played and only 15 in the starting lineup. Extrapolate his numbers over that time to per-36 rates and it’s even easier to understand how positive his impact was when on the floor for the Nets.
|Andray Blatche 2012-14||MIN||PTS||REB||AST||STL||BLK|
|Per 36 Minutes||36.0||18.9||9.2||2.2||1.8||1.0|
He didn't offer all that much on the defensive end last season (a bloated 54.8% allowed at the rim), but being teamed up with excellent rim protectors like Birdman and Bosh going forward could make up for that. At the very least, his offensive impact should outweigh what he gives up on the defensive end.
Blatche gets a bit of a bad rap for his somewhat adverse personality and off-court issues, but most of that comes from his time with the Washington Wizards, when he was one of many knuckleheads that characterized a dark era in their franchise history. Despite the occasional misstep as a Net (such as publicly screwing over Washington financially after being amnestied a few years back), Blatche’s game has been more of a story than anything off the basketball court over the last couple of years.
In 2012-13, his first with Brooklyn, he finished 13th in the whole NBA in player efficiency rating at 21.9. He was the only player in the top 20 that year who wasn’t a regular starter and noted NBA star. He only fell off to 18.8 this past season, which would still put him just outside the top 40 (impressive for a heavy-minute reserve).
Blatche comes with personality risks, but the Heat’s strong leadership structure of Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, and proven winners like Bosh and Wade should help keep Blatche in check. The reclamation projects of Michael Beasley and Greg Oden didn’t really pay dividends for Miami last season, but bringing in Blatche at a veteran’s discount to bolster their frontcourt could be one of their best moves this summer. The four-headed free agent monster of Deng, McRoberts, Granger, and now Blatche won’t fill the void left by LeBron James, but it should work well with a still solid core to keep Miami among the top teams in the East next season.