Sunday, September 6, 2009

"The One Big Addition": DeJuan Blair



I know it's late (okay way too late...) But I'd still like to mention it. Prior to the 2009 draft, Tim Varner from 48 Minutes Of Hell (or is it Graydon?) said this quote, "Unless someone like DeJuan Blair slides and the Spurs can buy/trade up to get him, I don’t expect the team to draft a power forward. But they can be crazy deceptive like that."

Then amazingly on draft night, DeJuan Blair who was projected as a lottery pick (as high as #11), falls into the waiting arms of the San Antonio Spurs at #37. Unthinkable but it happened. Most teams passed on him because of an MRI revealed that he has no ACL. But still, this guy can undoubtedly contribute to an NBA team. I mean he manhandled 7'3" and No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet in his college days.

Now Blair is a Spur, and he has something to prove. His big chip on the shoulder can only help. After the draft he actually said this "I've got a poster of the whole draft. I'm going to check off every team that passed on me." (I think this will actually help him play better).

Will he be able to contribute this coming season? Buford said this about him "He fills a big hole, We still need size. We still need more bigs. But to think we'd be able to add a guy who can come in and contribute right away, in a specific need, through our draft pick — that was kind of a reach going in." So what exactly can we expect from him?

First let's look at his numbers from last year:
15.7 ppg 12.3 rpg 1.2 apg 1.5 spg and 1 bpg / 59 FG%, 60% FT% in 27 mins

Based on these numbers, let's assume he'll play around 15-20 mins. Blair might be able to produce around 7 pts and 6 rebs a night. (I'm not saying this would be accurate, I'm just projecting). Now the big question is, will he be able to translate his game to another level? That remains to be seen.

But as a Spurs fan, we have a lot of reason to be optimistic.

Let's dig in deeper. Blair is a high efficiency guy that likes to mix it up inside. His ability to establish position in post is great prompting coach Don Newman to call him 'Space Eater', in short he knows how use his body. He's also good at setting up screens, a high energy guy and is tough, competitive and aggressive. He already has an NBA body with excellent (freakish) wingspan and more importantly he has a nose to get those rebounds (offensively and defensively).

What about his weaknesses? His ability to create own shot is limited, no advanced post moves yet, his back to basket scoring is not fully developed (good thing we have TD to teach him), his ability to defend position at next level is still in question mainly because of his lack of height, lacks defensive fundamentals (Spurs system and Coach Pop will make him better in this regard), lacks lateral quickness, conditioning (his weight could be a problem, and has no ACL, hope he stays healthy!) , free throw shooting (60% is bad!), and His jump shot is still unreliable. (we have Chip to fix that).

If we weigh things, I'd say his style of play fits the Spurs and his weaknesses are all correctable, after the training camp he will be a ready contributor. I'm not saying that he will have the same impact like Manu or Tony, in fact the Spurs don't see him as a starter this upcoming season. But what I'm sure is this guy can play, and can definitely be a solid rotation player. And with the current Spurs lineup, that would be enough.. Additional punch off the bench, additional grit, additional energy, additional hustle...

11 comments:

Jason said...

This guy will be a beast on the boards!

Robby Lim said...

Jason,
I am hoping that his great rebounding will translate into the NBA. But he can provide like 6-7 boards off to bench that will be great. By the way thanks for visiting my blog keep it coming...

Robby Lim said...

I meant *if he can provide... cheers!

Anonymous said...

My thoughts about the Spurs, with their Draft Picks and their Trades made, i'm thinking they can be a championship contender once again, if only they will find a way to stop LA and the much more improved (again) line up of Boston, because i;m looking at this two as the two best teams that made big deals this off-season. Championship contenders would be aside from these two would be...
1. Cleveland... If only they can find a way to make it to the next level
2. Orlando Magics... with Vince on their side, it's a plus in versatility and maturity..
3. Spurs.... packed with veterans but with energetic Young players...

Robby Lim said...

Anonymous, First of all thanks for leaving a comment on this article... (if you leave a message in the future, just select Name/URL from the profile then type in your Name, URL is not required just so you know ok?)... Now to the topic, I agree with your list, in my opinion these teams will be the main contenders this upcoming season:

1. LA Lakers - They bring back all their pieces (except for Ariza) but they 'upgraded' that spot by getting Artest. And they are still the defending champs so you have to give them that respect.

2. San Antonio Spurs - A very talented team on paper. Acquired athletic players in Richard Jefferson and Haislip. Added veteran frontcourt presence in McDyess and Ratliff. In addition have young players that can contribute right away Blair and Hill. And more importantly it looks like their 'BIG three' are coming back healthy

3. Boston Celtics - Their froncourt is nasty with the addition of 'Sheed. they also added backcourt presence. Big question is, will KG come back healthty?

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - The best team last year during the regular season. I don't think SHAQ solves most of their problems specially at the defensive end. (he will have trouble guarding those pick and Rolls). but I like their acquisition of Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon.

5. Orlando Magic - Beat the Cleveland team last year. Howard is still improving. and no matter what people say, I think Vince Carter is an upgrade over Hedo and you gotta love the additons of Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes.

That's the shortlist as the season starts and progresses we will have a better grasps on which teams are for real...

Again thanks and keep your comments coming...

Bentley said...

I can't wait for Dejuan to show what he can do, and the fact that other teams passed on him will surely fuel his fire, and he will provide that second unit with some intensity with his rebounding.

I'm kind of worried about his defense. He is undersized, hopefully he can be a Malik Rose type player defensively.

And the Spurs have a great shot at winning the title this year. I think the moves Cleveland and Orlando made killed their chances to get to the Finals. Shaq is aging and probably will not be able to defend the much younger quicker centers in that conference, or at least effectively guard them. While Vince was a better player then Turkoglu, Turkoglu at 6-10, was a matchup nightmare for the other teams because of his length and his playmaking ability, something that carried the Magic to the Finals.

Boston, with a healthy Kevin garnett and Sheed hungry for a title will make a lot of noise. They probably won't end up being in first place in the East, but I think they have the best shot at coming out of the conference

Bentley said...

Oh by the way Robby, maybe you should write up an article about the arms race between the 5 teams this season. I think people like to talk about how we natch up against other teams

Robby Lim said...

Bentley,

I'm with you on Boston if they are healthty.. same goes to our beloved Spurs... But right now I'm picking Orlando to come out of East, in the West, I think its either LA or the Spurs. And in my opinion is a lot closer that most people think...

Regarding Blair's defense, the main thing he should work on is his lateral quickness so that he will be better in defending the pick and roll. His height is an issue, although with 7-2 wingspan it is somewhat negated. Not to mention he has a big built....

Also, Blair seems to know what he's weaknesses are as he is working on it particularly his jump shots..

Robby Lim said...

The arms race between the 5 teams this upcoming season is certainly an interesting topic... I'll try to make an article on that on my future posts. Again thanks!

Henry said...

Blair will be the first big man off the bench this upcoming season for the Spurs and he'll make the teams that passed on him pay

Robby Lim said...

Henry,

I'm not sure about that... He has to compete minutes with Bonner, Ratliff and Mahinmi I suppose. But on the outset it seems he has an outside shot. Having said that I wouldn't mind if he's our first big off the bench.