New Orleans Pelicans MLE Tournament: Nick Young vs. Andray Blatche

Published: June 5, 2014

In today’s MLE Tournament, Lakers’ guard Nick Young  goes head-to-head with Wizards’ big man Andray Blatche. Don’t forget to vote at the end, and for all the matchups so far, click here. 

Nick Young (3 years for $13 million)

By Ryan Schwan

I can feel you smirking right now.  To you, there’s nothing I can say that could make you take a look at Swaggy P, is there?  He’s a headcase – tarred with the Gilbert Arenas school of Wizardry and Guns.  He hung out with fellow crazy Andray Blatche, and helped make the Wizards a laughingstock.  In Philly, he was an offensive player who somehow made Doug Collins bench his butt when the team desperately needed offense.  He’s the Grand Poobah of the worst Lakers team in decades.  Literal decades.  He’s even a star of Shaqtin’ a fool.  Why would you slap down 13 Million over 3 years for that guy?

Because he’s also a fine basketball player, my friends.

Last season, he posted a True Shooting Percentage – as one of the Lakers few major options – of 56.4%.  Take the Pelicans opening night starting five.  Only Anthony Davis surpassed him amongst that crowd.  Take the Pelicans wing shooters last year:  Gordon, Roberts, Holiday, Miller, Rivers, Morrow, Aminu(hee hee).  Only Morrow beat that number.

Still, it’s the NBA, and there are plenty of players who can catch and shoot – or catch and dunk – and post damn fine True Shooting Percentages.  It’s true, but Swaggy doesn’t fit with those specialists – he can actually do a lot of damage a lot of ways and showed it last year when he posted a usage rate of 26.8%.  Only Tyreke beat that number on the Pelicans.  The man generated 1.03 points per possessions last year, with a turnover rate of merely 9%.  As a pick and roll ballhandler (Imagine him rolling with Davis instead of leadfoot Gasol) he scored 0.84 points per attempt – good for 59th in the league.  As a spot-up shooter, he ranked 13th in the league, knocking down 1.27 points per attempt on 19% of his total offense.  In transition, he put down 1.25 points per possession, ranking 63rd in the league.  Taking the ball to the rack on a dribble hand-off, he scored 1.06 points per posession, ranking 19th in the league.  And he’s not an iso-ball hog.  Only 20% of his possessions came as an iso foray.

You want advanced stats?  How about an above average PER of 16, and a Win Score of 2.5.(better than all but three Pelicans last year)

He’s good people.  Every year, someone says “So and so could be our Jamal Crawford!”  Well guess who out-Crawforded Crawford in every Synergy-tracked offensive category but one last year?  Nick Young.

This is the answer to the question about the Finishing Five and who goes to the bench, folks.  No one.  Start the main five, and let Swaggy P be the bench-mauling scoring machine.  Morrow pirated by the Thunder? Import Swaggy. Gordon sent packing for Cap Relief and Jaime Lannister’s only somewhat used hand?  Import Swaggy.  Worried about injuries to our wing players?  Import Swaggy.

Or . . . you could import Blatche.  The man who is still being paid by the Wizards to just go play somewhere else, please.  The man who couldn’t get more than 4 minutes in his team’s season-deciding playoff game.  A generally out of shape Stay Puft who had a career year after being tossed out the door by the Wizards, and regressed sharply last season.  A big man who posts a total rebound rate of 14% – which makes him just like all the Pelican’s non-Davis big men:  poor rebounders with offensive skills.

Do we need that guy?  Does he bring anything we don’t already have?  No, I think not.  Vote Swaggy!

Andray Blatche (3 years for $15 million)

by Jake Madison

Well, here I am with another center. This time it’s Andray Blatche instead of Emeka Okafor. My basic premise for voting Okafor was based on the fact that head coach Monty Williams sees Anthony Davis as a power forward and wants to pair him with a big bruising center. And well if that’s what the team is looking for there is no one better available in our MLE Tournament than Andray Blatche.

First, I want you to think about a question: Over the past two offseasons who is the one player you’d love to have back on the team?

Did you say Robin Lopez? I bet you said Robin Lopez and his nearish to $5 million a year contract. Hey! That’s the same average as Blatche at 3 years for $5 million. Remember, most of us really liked Lopez at that price. So, what I’m telling you is we could replace Lopez with a guy who’s better than him at the same price. Sounds good. Go vote for Blatche right now. No? Okay, fine, here’s more convincing.

With the news that Davis is working on his corner 3-point shot and his pull-up jumper off the dribble someone will need to be the low-post threat for the Pelicans. Jeff Withey has potential but he is so very far from a finished product.

Enter Blatche.

Here is a guy who for his career averages 16.5 points, 8.7 total rebounds, a PER of 21.9 and 18.8 over the past two seasons, and a defensive rating of 106. Take a look at his shot chart

Blatche chart

All in all it’s not a terrible resume for a somewhat underachieving center. Look, no one is looking for Blatche to be anything more than the 4th option on the team offensively. He needs to come in, keep defenses honest, make some shots, grab some rebounds, and play acceptable defense. But let’s dig in a little more.

I look at two areas on offense where I want to see Blatche do well. First and foremost how does Blatche do as the Pick and Roll Man? According to Blatche scores .99 points per play which ranks him 84th in the league. It’s not amazing but it’s far, far better than it could be. And for a 4th option I’m totally cool with it.

Now for Post-Up situations! Blatche scores .91 ppp when he bodys his way inside. This ranks him 48th in the league. Okay, now we’re entering a much better area. This will force the opponents to choose. Do you stick your better big man defender on Blatche or Davis? Either way it works out to a win for the Pelicans.

And the contract. 5 million a year for three years for a starting big man is excellent. Especially if you’re not looking for him to be the star of the team. Like I said with Okafor, all I’m really looking for in the Pelicans’ center is someone to come in and hold down the low block on offense and defense in respectable fashion. No more than that. And Blatche can do this most commendably.

But say you’re not convinced! Are you freaking telling me you’d rather have Nick Swaggy P Young? Yes, his nickname and personality are awesome—if not ingratiating at times. But his career 13.3 PER is below average. I personally don’t want a guy who ripped 14 shots per game last season on this team taking looks away from Davis, Holiday, Evans, and Anderson. And defensively he isn’t very good as his -2.2 net rating attests.

But you want to know why I really don’t want Nick Young on the Pelicans? Because I’ve made so many ‘Which is greater: Points or Shots?’ bets over him. And on any given game you have no idea which side will win. Look at his gamelog there are far too many times he’s had horribly inefficient nights.

Whether you agree with how Monty wants his offense to run or not…well he’s the coach and it’s simply how the team will be. And if that’s the case then I want to give him the best center for the cost to make this offense work as well as possible. When it comes to our MLE Tournament that player is Andray Blatche.

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