New Orleans Pelicans MLE Tournament: Andray Blatche vs. Kevin Seraphin

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Published: June 25, 2014

Andray Blatche (3 Years and $15 Million)

by Jake Madison

I’ve been saying it all tournament and I’m going to say it yet again: Monty Williams wants a center for the Pelicans. And a lot of you agree with me based on the fact that you’ve been voting for the biggest of the bigs throughout the Bourbon Street Shots MLE tournament. So here we finally arrive at two centers facing off to go into the finals. But which one do you choose? Andray Blatche.

The Pelicans are not looking to add a star player; they aren’t even looking to add another player to their core roster. The Pelicans are simply looking for a complimentary piece. And that is most likely a center or small forward who can be a starter or key guy off the bench. Not a first, second, or even third option. But maybe a fourth or fifth depending on what happens later in the offseason. Well Andray Blatche is that fourth or fifth option. That sounds kind of weird, and, let’s face it, unsexy and unexciting. Yet is exactly what the team needs.

Monty went with a center-by-committee last season but that was simply because no one was good enough to handle the starting job by themselves. The season prior Robin Lopez started all 82 games and played 26 minutes per. Before he got hurt Emeka Okafor started all the games he played in during the 2011-12 season and in 2010-11 he started 72 games. Give Monty a proven center and he will unequivocally start.

For his career Blatche has played 22.1 minutes per game, averaged 10.1 points, grabbed 5.4 rebounds, and defending other centers. The points and rebounds will certainly increase along with his minutes as he steps into a starting role. Most importantly, last season, Blatche had a net rating of 0.4, meaning that his team was basically neutral when he was on the court. He didn’t exactly elevate them, but more importantly the team did not play worse when he was getting minutes.

Kevin Seraphin on the other hand is an entirely different story. Seraphin had a net rating of -4.6 last season. When he plays his team is getting outscored. That’s not the type of guy I want to see starting on the Pelicans.

Let me focus for a moment on the last point I made about Blatche: his defense; he defends centers. Our own Michael Pellissier recently wrote a post where he talks about how Dwight Howard just abused Anthony Davis in the low post. Well, with Blatche the Pelicans wouldn’t need to worry about that anymore. Even if Blatche doesn’t contribute much in other areas, he’s the sponge that soaks up abuse that would otherwise go to the team’s franchise player.

Seraphin isn’t capable of that. According to 82games.com, Seraphin was outplayed in terms of PER by 4.1. He’s very undersized for a center at 6 foot 9 inches. That’s rough if he plays on playing significant minutes against the league’s premier big men. Seraphin’s rebounding stats reflect this. He has a career ORB% of 9.3, DRB% of 15.6, giving him a TRB% of 12.4. Blatche clocks in at 9.6, 18.9, and 14.1 respectively. Oh, and he’s 6 foot 11 inches.

As for their contracts, both are for 3 years yet Blatche is 5 million more total. That makes Blatche 1.667 million more expensive. That’s nothing. It won’t prevent the Pelicans from making any other move they want.

Since I’ve started covering the Pelicans and the NBA there is a word I’ve very much started to hate: Potential. For a rookie it’s okay. But for a fourth year player like Seraphin? Nope. And that’s all he is. In four seasons Seraphin hasn’t proven anything to make someone think he should be a starter.

Blatche on the other hand is acceptable if unspectacular. And, like I said before, for a fourth or fifth option that is more than alright. I’d certainly pay 1.667 million more a season for that. And I bet Dell Demps and Monty Williams would as well. Go Team Blatche!

Kevin Seraphin (3 Years and $10 Million)

by Michael McNamara

I know that you want to skip past my argument and vote for Blatche, but please hear me out. I am not going to argue that Blatche is more productive, nor am I going to say that he has more upside, because I personally don’t believe either is true. But I do believe that if Dell is faced with these two guys at these price tags, he should sign Kevin Seraphin. I mean, let’s be real here – Even though one guy might be more talented than the other, these are both stop gap guys, and more likely than not, they would both just be passing through. This idea that every guy we sign is going to be here with our core is just a fallacy. Teams rotate fringe pieces in and out all the time, always looking for the perfect combination of accessories to add to its foundation.

My argument here is two-fold: Seraphin is the better guy to play the kind of role we need a big to play and he will be the easier asset to build up and flip due to his skill set and contract. First things first, let’s talk about what we need from a big man. We need a low usage guy who can give us 25 minutes one night and perhaps only 10 the next depending on the matchup. Look at a team like San Antonio – do they stick with the same rotation for all 82 games? Of course not. Heck, they change up rotations in the Western Conference Finals and midway through the NBA Finals. Ajinca did great against bigs like Hibbert and Jordan, but stunk against Howard. Blatche was great against Howard. AD mostly plays power forward to start games, but he could play at the five exclusively against small ball teams.

The point is that the Pelicans are likely to go center by committee if they get a middle of the road center this summer, and if they do that, how much confidence do have you in Blatche staying silent and being a team player in the locker room when he gets a DNP one night after getting 25 minutes? And how about his usage rate? Any center who is brought in will get 6-7 shots per game, tops. Blatche’s usage rate over the past two years in New Jersey was 26%. Seraphin’s was 20% lower and more than 20% of his shots in his career were assisted on, meaning his needs the ball less and he doesn’t try to create for himself. If a guard sets him up for an easy shot, he will finish it, but he won’t demand the ball and dance with it like Blatche does. Yes, Blatche is the more skilled big man, but every time Blatche dribbles twice between his legs and takes an 18 footer, that is lost shot for Davis or a lost drive for Reke, a lost bomb from Ryno, etc.

The guy that comes in here to fill this role needs to be defensive minded first and foremost. And yes, like Monty said, he has to be a threat offensively. But just a threat, not a creator. If this was a game of one-on-one, Blatche would probably destroy Seraphin, but this is about fitting a need for a team with a terrific foundation already in place. It is about complimenting the bigs already on the roster and filling in gaps on the defensive end. This team lacks a big who can defend in the post and who has the wingspan and foot quickness to trap in the pick and roll. Seraphin can give them that. And when they need something else, they go to AD or Ajinca or Withey at the five if it fits what we need in that specific game.

And then, lets talk about the players as assets. Again, players come and go. The Pelicans will likely continue to look for the perfect compliment up front until they find him, and when they do, guys like Seraphin and Blatche will become superfluous. If you want to trade one, or in a worst case scenario dump one of them, next summer – Who would be easier to move? The worst case scenario with Blatche makes him a mini anchor on your roster, and even if he has a solid year, he might not be easy to move . I mean, at a similar salary, and at a younger age, coming off a very productive year, all the Pelicans could get for Robin Lopez was a 2nd round pick. Considering the role he will be playing, it is hard to imagine that Blatche can post similar numbers to what Lopez put up. And if that is the case, he could be hard to move. Meanwhile, lets say we land our center next year after Seraphin has a bounce back year as a rotation player for the Pelicans. Now, he is a guy who just turned 25 with two years and $6.5 million on his contract. Easier to move, easier to entice.

In conclusion, the argument for Seraphin is his fit in the present and his ability to be flipped in the future. If you believe that Blatche is the final piece to the front court, then by all means, go ahead and vote for him. But if you see it like I d0 – that these are just two guys filling a temporary need before eventually moving on, then take the better fit and the better contract. Choose Kevin Seraphin.


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