Without JaVale McGee and Nick Young to hog the spotlight anymore, Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche has taken center stage as the team's most polarizing figure. He has been booed by the hometown "faithful," complained about his role just one game into the season and just has had a horrific season (8.5 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field along with just fewr than six rebounds per game) for someone who was named team captain (for at least one game).
With all that being said, Tuesday was just another low point for Blatche.
The Wizards shut down Blatche Tuesday so that he may work himself back into game shape following his poor return from a strained left calf muscle.
“We thought we could maybe try to play him into shape once he got back,” head coach Randy Wittman told The Washington Post. “After looking at it, it’s unfair for me to put him in that position. and I think what we’re going to do, we’re going to probably not play him for a while, get him on a program here, where he can really go after it from a conditioning standpoint to get himself back into shape. It’s not fair for me to do that to the kid.”
Since returning from a 15-game stint on injured reserve, Blatche is averaging only five points and three rebounds, according to CSN Washington. Blatche is averaging 15 minutes since his return, but only saw five minutes of action during Washington's 97-92 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday.
"It’s an opportunity for us to have Dray really concentrate on his conditioning, get his weight where it needs to be and then seeing where that leads," Wittman told CSN Washington.
While missing time with an injury can definitely have a negative impact on a player's conditioning, the fact that missing 15 games turned Blatche into a huffing-and-puffing mess is concerning. The Wizards just acquired two solid big men in Nene and Brian Cook, so they are more than able to fill in for Blatche not just in ability, but sheer size.
Wittman said Tuesday that he believed that he could play Blatche back into shape, and unless that shape resembles a pile of goo, it did not work out as planned.
But then again, neither did Blatche.
Adam Vingan is co-founder and editor of Kings Of Leonsis, a Caps-centric blog, and is the Capitals Editor for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_KOL and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.