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Jordan: Blatche Must Be Better off Bench

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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5 -- When Caron Butler returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing three games with a hip injury, third-year forward-center Andray Blatche was placed back into his traditional role of coming off the bench.

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Blatche thrived in four games as a starter, averaging 15.5 points (50 percent shooting), 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 35.3 minutes. Blatche has not been as effective coming off the bench. In 42 games, he has averaged 5.9 points (45.7 percent shooting), 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 17.7 minutes.

To Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan, that is understandable given Blatche's youth -- at 21 he's actually younger than rookies Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Oleksiy Pecherov -- and inexperience.

"You almost have to be a starter, a guy like [Chicago's] Ben Gordon or [San Antonio's] Manu Ginobili," Jordan said before Tuesday's game against the 76ers. "Those type of guys are high-level starters who know what it takes to come off the bench and be consistent. That's hard to do in the NBA. Andray's still a young player and he's going to have to find a niche."

Jordan consistently stresses the need for Blatche to play with energy and improve his physical conditioning.

"It's concentration level," Jordan said. "His work ethic is improving and needs to improve some more. It's the focus of getting through life in the NBA and not just on the court. He's learning to take the game home with him, to work on his body as well as his game. He's still a little bit youthful in those departments."

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