The Nets will miss Andray Blatche

When Nets fans remember Andray Blatche, they will most likely remember him for his silly shenanigans rather than for his actual play on the court. There were the numerous times during his two year tenure with the Nets that Blatche mistook himself for Deron Williams and flung up an ill advised three-point shot, or tried a difficult Harlem Globetrotter-esque dribble move and failed miserably. Comedy will not be the only part of Blatche that Nets fan will miss this year as the big man continues his career in China, though.

Before coming to the Nets, Blatche was the laughingstock of the league. He played on a Washington Wizards team filled with knuckleheads who spent more time filling up tabloids than filling up the stat sheet. After he was amnestied by the Wizards, the Nets took a flyer on Blatche and it happened to pay off. In his first season with the team Blatche posted a career high in field goal percentage and helped lead the franchise to a 49-win season. However, last year was when Blatche really started to have a major impact on the team.

Besides being the Nets’ best Filipino player last year, Blatche was arguably the team’s best big man. Coming into the season last year it appeared that the Nets hald one of the better front lines in the conference. Brook Lopez was coming off an all-star season where he cemented himself as the best offensive center in the conference and the Nets had just acquired a 37-year-old Kevin Garnett.  But what appeared to be a strength for the Nets on paper quickly turned to a weakness on the court.  After seventeen games Brook Lopez was shut down with a foot injury. In addition, Kevin Garnett started to show his age and struggled on the court. To the surprise of many, Blatche stepped up and exceeded most if not all expectations. Blatche averaged 11 points and 5 rebounds, both highs for players on the Nets’ bench. In addition, Blatche had the second highest PER on the team and posted the highest net rating for any big on the team. The Nets were outscored by two points per 100 possessions when Blatche was not on the floor. He also appeared to bring out the best in Deron Williams. When he and Williams shared the floor, the Nets outscored opponents by 7.5 points per 100 possessions last year.

The season has not yet started and the Nets have already begun to have problems up front. Brook Lopez continues to have issues with his foot and it appears to be an injury that will bother him for most of the season. The Nets will need someone to step up in absence. Mason Plumlee looked impressive as a rookie, but does not have the offensive polish that Lopez has. At his age, Kevin Garnett cannot be counted on to be the team’s main option in the post.

There were many times last year when Nets fans probably wanted to pulled their hair out while watching Andray Blatche play. However, for all his mischief off the court, Blatche was still an integral part of a playoff team. Was.