Last season, Blatche emerged as a terrific option off the bench for the Nets, getting playing time in all 82 regular season games and every playoff game, averaging 19.0 minutes per game in the regular season and a 19.7 in the postseason.
Blatche had a great first season in Brooklyn, shooting 51.2 percent from the field, with a 16.3 rebounding percentage and a 54.7 True Shooting percentage. Most impressively, he finished the regular season with a 21.9 Player Efficiency Rating, good for 13th in the entire NBA, ahead of guys like Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and even Deron Williams.
This year, however, Blatche has gotten off to a slower start. Through the first four games of the season, he's averaging 20.6 minutes a game, shooting just 30.0 percentage from the field, with a 12.1 rebounding percentage and a 31.3 True Shooting percentage. To put into perspective, that True Shooting percentage currently ranks No. 331 in the NBA among all players who have taken at least one shot this season. That's not a typo. Even Reggie Evans has shot better than that.
Of course, a lot of this will straighten itself out over time. I doubt we'll see Blatche continue to shoot this poorly throughout the entire season. He was too good last year for that form to completely desert him. Don't just take my word for it, we've got color-coded visual evidence to prove it.
(click for full size)
The graphics above are Blatche's shot charts, courtesy of NBA.com, from the 2012-13 regular season. Red, yellow and green represent below average, average and above average field goal percentages compared to the league average. So, in Blatche's case, as a center, yellow should be considered pretty good, while green is very, very good.You'll notice that in the basic zone shot chart on the left, Blatche was solidly among the league average in the paint and inside the arc. In the hot spot zone chart on the right, you can see where he really excelled: dead center from 8-16 and 16-24 feet, and on the right side from 16-24 feet. Clearly though, by volume, he lived in the paint. He took 439 of his 676 total shot attempts (roughly 65% of his field goal attempts) 8 feet from the basket or closer.
In the postseason however, Blatche took his game to a new level, as the shot charts below demonstrate:
(click for full size)Blatche was a beast in that playoff series, shooting over 61% on 31 shots from inside 8 feet, and 60% from 8-16 feet up the middle. All in all, he put up a 55.0 True Shooting percentage in that series, cementing his place in the Nets' future plans and earning himself a new multi-year contract.
This year's shot chart through four games and 30 field goal attempts, looks a little, well, less efficient, let's say.
(click for full size)As you can see, Blatche has not been able to buy a bucket, even in the places he excelled last season. He's just 4-of-11 in the restricted area so far, and 4-of-13 from inside 8 feet, a paltry 30.7 FG%. Even the green areas are misleading in this small sample size. The bottom line is that Blatche has gotten off to a really slow start for whatever reason, and while I do think he's bound to get better as the season goes on, maybe the Nets need to do a better job of easing him into the lineup until he gets himself back in rhythm.
Frankly, he's pretty due to have a break-out game or two. His inefficient shooting, hopefully is nothing more than an early-season slump. At the end of the day, I think it may be some combination of putting a little too much on his plate too quickly, and some bad luck, too. Whatever's causing his early season shooting drought, I expect something closer to the 2012-13 version of Blatche to reemerge sooner rather than later. I have faith in Dray. Those shot charts won't look like a Carrie movie forever.