Andray Blatche was probably a little over the top when he expressed his commitment to making the Wizards a better team last week on media day. An impassioned Blatche explained that his days of coming short of expectations are behind him and he vowed to be a better teammate with a somewhat uncomfortable comment.
No one needs for Blatche to croak to prove his competitive fire, but a consistent effort each night would be a nice start. Blatche led the Wizards in scoring through the first two exhibition games, averaging 15.5 points, and trailed only JaVale McGee in efficiency rating. With the Wizards set to host the New Jersey Nets on Monday, Blatche is ready for the season to begin.
“It’s going to come along for us, but we still have a long way to go,” Blatche said. “We still gotta compete and continue to get better, definitely work on our communication skills. We’ve got to communicate on defense and on offense. We have to be able to make the extra passes, to stick together.”
The Wizards struggled offensively in their two losses against Philadelphia, shooting just 34 percent from the field, but Blatche doesn’t think that is a concern with the scorers on the roster. He does believe that roles still have to be defined over the next few days.
“I don’t think guys really know their roles yet, who’s going to be the first, second or third scorer. I don’t think it’s set in stone in anybody’s mind yet,” Blatche said. “That’s something that we really have to do, though. Once we get to that point, our offense will start clicking because if every guy think they’re the first option, then they’re going to take the first-option type of shots. We got to come up with that kind of status.”
As Dan Steinberg pointed out recently, Blatche has a chance to surpass Antawn Jamison and Calbert Cheaney in career games played for the franchise if he stays healthy this season. He has appeared in 383 games. Jamison appeared in 421 and Cheaney played in 424.
Blatche has been dealing with a sore right shoulder and provided a momentary scare on Tuesday when he went up for a jump ball against the 76ers and came down grabbing his arm. Turned out, his funny bone had collided with McGee.
“Health-wise, I’m fine. The shoulder is starting to go away. I barely even feel it anymore,” Blatche said. “I’m just excited. I feel we got a big chance to do something big this year as long as we stay together and work hard, and I think we are.”
Blatche understands the negative perception that has haunted him during his six seasons in Washington and would like for that to change. But knows that it won’t if he can’t help the Wizards win games, as they did during playoff appearances in his first three seasons.
“Whatever we do, we’ve got to change this whole atmosphere from losing and people used to us losing to winning,” Blatche said. “The only way that’s going to happen is when you lose, you can’t stand the taste in your mouth. It’s got to bother you all night. It’s got to keep you up. I just want to get back to us having fun and winning. We have the right pieces, and we have the youth. We have a lot of young guys that it’s no problem the way our schedule is set up that we shouldn’t come out on fire and getting things rolling.”