Its been a hectic week and I have had to catch up on the Wizards thanks to the good old Tivo. Man, I need to invest in a Slingbox.
One thing that is clear is that the loss of Josh Howard hurts the team offensively. Josh Howard was one of the teams more gifted offensive players who could get his shot nearly anytime that he wanted. Josh has a jumper that you have to respect and more importantly he would often drive to the hoop. He was also important because he was a consistent second scorer to go along with Andray Blatche.
The loss of Josh Howard enables other teams to more easily double Andray Blatche, particularly since no other player has consistently stepped up as that number two scorer. Personally, I would like Mike Miller to become more assertive in that role, but he is still attempting to be a facilitator and look for his shot as a last resort. Since team’s are beginning to double Andray Blatche a little more frequently, it would be great if he and Mike Miller can play off of one another – possibly getting Miller a few more open looks if his man attempts to double Blatche.
Over the last seven games, Blatche has clearly become the teams primary scoring option. His statistics over this stretch are unlike anything we have consistently seen from him. Over the last seven games, Blatche is averaging nearly 27 PPG and 12 RPG. Statistics that if (and yes I know that is an enormous if) he were to average over the course of a full season would put him in some lofty company – top 5 after Kobe and before Dewayne Wade. Again this is only 7 games, but Blatche has never demonstrated this type of consistency, and he has never been given this type of opportunity before.
Given the way that he is currently playing, I would like to see this team continue to learn how to play with him. Since the Josh Howard season-ending injury, it is even more important to rely on Blatche. There were times in the Memphis, New York and New Jersey games in which the team began to bog down, and Blatche clearly had it going. During those stretches, I would have liked to see Blatche more aggressively call for the ball and just as importantly Miller or Foye ensure that the offense went through Blatche. If the defense was going to double Blatche, that would open up an open shot for someone else. Too often during those each of those games – two of which were losses – the team put up bad and/or contested shots.
We have 25 games (including the make up game with Atlanta) remaining to see if this team learns how to play off of Andray Blatche.