The Miami Heat are entering training camp with limited depth at the center position. Outside of Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Chris Bosh, the Heat don’t have anyone else reliable.
Some notable free agent centers still on the market: Emeka Okafor, Andray Blatche, Kevin Serpahin and Byron Mullens.
Andray Blatche, who has his name italicized above, is one of the most intriguing free agents left on the market. At 28, Blatche still has a lot of mileage left in his legs and would be a perfect fit for the Heat.
Last year, Blatche played a huge role for the Brooklyn Nets when starting center, Brook Lopez, broke his foot, missing the remainder of the year. Playing off of the bench, Blatche averaged 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and one steal per game. He looked like a completely different player compared to earlier in his career where he was immature and egotistical.
He looked great in the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus the Miami Heat. In this series, he utilized his dribbling skills to get to the rim and was able to finish at the rim at a high percentage.
According to ESPN, Blatche was the 4th best center when it came to Points Per-48 Minutes, averaging 24.4 points last season. This is a surprise because Blatche ranked 21st in minutes for qualified centers at 22.2 minutes per game.
What does this mean?
It means Blatche is one of the most productive centers in the league; and, surprisingly, very underrated.
However, the stats don’t show how inconsistent Blatche really is. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals versus the Heat, Blatche put up scoring lines of 4-0-15-8-0. In two games, he was unable to score a single point and in both of those games he averaged 0.5 rebounds.
Besides being plagued with inconsistency, Blacthe has had his fair share of problems off the court.
In 2010, Blatche was fined $10,000 by the Wizards for participating in the infamous Gilbert Arenas locker room gun play incident. Three years later, Blatche was questioned after he witnessed an alleged rape in New York. While he wasn’t at fault for the rape, the police found remnants of a date-rape drug in his hotel room.
After being released by the Wizards via the amnesty clause in 2010, Blatche fired back at his former teammates and Wizards’ management.
In a radio interview in 2010, Blatche told Washington 106.7 The Fan how he felt he was treated during his tenure in Washington.
"“That’s my other point. For them to say, ‘He’s a bad teammate. He’s a cancer in the locker room.’ All that was a bunch of lies. That’s what really made me mad. When they said all those rumors and put them in the media, that’s what angered me. Who else would say that? None of my teammates would say that. [The media] can ask every last one of my teammates here, and I guarantee you what they say is completely different than what everyone else says.”"
Can Blatche stay out of trouble? That question remains seemingly unanswered.
Despite his off-court issues, Blatche would be a great rotational player for the Heat. If he can prove to Spoelstra that he can be trusted on the court, he could earn his way into a sixth-man type of role on the team. If he’s offered a contract, expect it to be in the range of 1-2 years and $1-2 million per year. Signing him would be a low-risk, high-reward type of deal, and if doesn’t work out, the Heat won’t be locked into long-term money.
Andray Blatche is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.
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