San Antonio Spurs’ DeJuan Blair is the kind of guy that’s always been a mystery to me.
When he played in college at Pittsburgh, I was constantly impressed but I didn’t think his skill set would transfer to the NBA. I was surprised he fell so far in the draft, but I can understand why with his ACL-less knees.
Throughout his career he’s had those games where I can say, “See, I told you he wouldn’t make it in the NBA.” Then the very next night he’ll go out and look like an All-Star. He’s the type of guy that can get you three points and six rebounds in a night, or go for 20 and 12.
Despite his inconsistent play, I still think he’s an important part of the Spurs. On average, you get about 20 solid minutes a game from Blair. He’s not the go-to guy on offense and he knows it, so you don’t have to worry about him taking a bunch of ill-advised shots. He shoots at around 50% from the field, good enough to be top 15 in the NBA. It’s a great stat for a role-playing big man to have. It’d be nice if he could shoot a higher free throw percentage though. He doesn’t make it to the line often, but he only shoots 58% when he gets there.
On defense, he’s obviously not the quickest guy in the league, and he’s undersized for his position but he gets the job done. He’s not a liability and he grabs a good amount of rebounds at 5.7 per game this season. Though he is averaging less rebounds this year for his career, he is averaging a career-high in points at 9.3.
Everyone knows Tim Duncan is getting older, so Blair’s value is even greater than the stats he puts up. He provides some support and rest for Timmy in the paint, which is an immeasurable asset.
Blair’s contract is running out (he is in his final contract year at $986,000) and the Spurs have the option on him for next year ($1,054,000), I honestly think they should keep him around. The trade deadline is coming up and I suppose he could be traded but I honestly don’t think the Spurs would get his true value in a trade. He’s found a role in Coach Popovich’s system the he fits really well into but other teams might not be able to utilize him as well, so they wouldn’t give up much for him.
I’ve come a long way on my opinion of Blair. If he continues to improve and he stays healthy, he could be a big part of the Spurs for a long time.