Round 2 of this little funny thing I’m doing, this time featuring the “Magic Johnson with Puso” himself, as you must feel morally compelled to call him now that I’ve coined this great nickname. Sure, we’re talking about Andray Blatche, recently signed by the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. From this point on this sort of column will have stat lines predictions as well, since I kinda miss getting pwned by my own “foresight”. Have fun!
As mesmerized as I was witnessing the Dray Line (as his “nickname NBA jersey” from his Brooklyn days apparently recounts) carry a Philippines team that gained fans from all over the world during this Fiba World Cup thanks to their aggressive effort to overcome their status as a critically undersized side, I’ll admit I didn’t pay close attention to how consistent were his stats in the tournament compared to his career averages in the League.
Turns out the real piece of news here is that finally Blatche has spent some quality time being regarded as the key rebounder for his team. It did pan out certainly well under these circumstances, giving him the first position in rebounds per game in the whole tournament with 13.8, a number that certainly looks all the more promising considering how good and experienced his average opponents were in comparison to almost every big man he’ll face off against in the CBA (be aware of the fact that last season’s top five featured three asian imports).
Add in that he’ll play for the Flying Tigers, who relied heavily on their two imports to account for their rebound numbers.
Hold on, let me elaborate on this a bit: last season Xinjiang was second in the league in team rebounds per game, sporting an impressive 44.17. Among the top five were Guangdong, Guangsha, Tianjin and Shanghai, who not surprisingly all made the playoffs. But Tianjin had three imports (and one of them was Zaid Abbas, enough said) and the other three team had a good bunch of local rebounding. Xinjiang’s locals were not far off these heights, but what set them apart was Lester Hudson’s ridiculous effort on the boards, with almost 8 rebounds a game playing at either guard spot. He was by himself the key for such good rebounding numbers, and not having him around come the start of this season might prove dangerous for the whole team.
Either way, Blatche himself should be able to gather more than the 10.76 boards per game Singleton tracked down last year, also thanks to his height advantage (Singleton, although really effective, is just 6’8″, while Blatche is 6’11”), and that might make up for it, hoping that Crawford gets more involved in collecting boards than he was in his short NBA tenure (5.9 total rebound percentage for his career; not exactly Chamberlain-esque, but we’ll see).
The real problem, on the other hand, might very well be Andray’s shooting habits.
Those, to be honest, weren’t as paltry as one might have suggested during his NBA career: 23,7% from deep, but on 0.4 attempts per game; he was more trigger-happy from the midrange, though, where he connected on just 37% of his shots (still not something to bench him for, however).
But the World Cup showed some unconvincing signs: 4.4 threes attempted per game with a 27.3 conversion rate doesn’t bode well for his CBA offensive output, nor do his well-known discipline issues.
Discipline aside, Xinjiang has always been a great deep-shooting team, making it to the top three in each of the last three seasons. That’s not solely due to their imports’ heroics, but having employed Hudson, Wafer and Patty Mills has certainly helped. James Singleton himself has had a 39% season from deep in 2013, and although his numbers weren’t as convincing last season a 34% mark is not terrible for a big man.
Given that Jordan Crawford is himself an underwhelming deep shooter (30,6% for his short NBA career), Blatche might not resist the urge to let it fly. And, given his numbers, that’d not be the best idea long-term.
Final prediction: 24 ppg, 13 rpg, <30% 3pt.
P.s. of course, being a true sports fan, I wish every player the best, even if that means turning my predictions whack. When I’ll start getting paid for them we’ll talk about it, but as of now…
See you next time with the third round of “The real, devastating impact of…”, take care!