3-on-3: What the Spurs have with DeJuan Blair
This week’s edition of 3-on-3 features a trio of questions about Spurs big man DeJuan Blair. He was the steal of the draft two years ago when the Spurs plucked him in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft. Since making his debut for the Spurs, there’s been some ups and not so ups for Blair. A starter at the beginning of last season, Blair gradually fell out of favor and was replaced by Antonio McDyess in the starting lineup near mid-season. It appeared Blair’s confidence had eroded with the switch and his impact on the floor lessened severely.
Entering his third NBA season, Blair faces some serious questions about his future with the Spurs. He’s got two years left on a very salary cap friendly rookie contract, but if he doesn’t continue to improve it’s not out of the question to see him moved as a part of a larger trade package. Today three 48MoH bloggers take a look at Blair’s current standing with the Spurs.
1. How much potential does DeJuan Blair really have?
Timothy Varner, 48 Minutes of Hell: DeJuan Blair could become a much more useful player with the addition of a reliable pick and pop game. Defensively, the grit and guile of experience will eventually help to mitigate against his height, but he’s always going to be a 6’7” center. All in, he’s currently 75% of the player he could be.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Blair will never been an all-star, but he’s capable of evolving into a highly competent role player who contributes on both ends. He’ll most likely never be an elite defender — he lacks the height — but as he gets wiser, his defense will improve. His motor, length and core strength have already helped him become a borderline-elite rebounder.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Blair’s lack of height puts a strict ceiling on his potential in the NBA. He has all the ability to carve out a long career in the NBA, especially if he can master a mid-range jump shot, but his size puts a cap on him as a off-the-bench big man on a contender.
2. Are his positives (motor, rebounding) enough to outweigh his negatives (short, no jumper)?
Timothy Varner, 48MoH: It depends whom the other team has on the floor. Some nights, the answer is a definitive “no”. Other nights, it’s a decided “yes”. Unfortunately, the thing that most sharply differentiates one night from another is the line that separates the regular season from the playoffs.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: Yes. Personally, I put a very high value on rebounding and am willing to excuse other deficiencies if a player is exceptionally good at ending an opponent’s possession after one shot. I also think the concerns regarding his height, although valid, are a bit overstated. His length and core strength make up his comparatively squat body.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Depends on how heavily you rely on him. If you need him for around 15 minutes a night as an energy guy off the bench, someone to come in and scrap on the boards and physically wear out the other team, then yes. If you need him to control the paint and put up points on offense, then no.
3. Buy or sell: Moving DeJuan Blair before the trade deadline?
Timothy Varner, 48MoH: San Antonio has to upgrade their frontcourt first. They’re thin the way it is, and entirely too thin without Blair. But in the event of an upgrade, I’d buy a Blair trade near the trade deadline.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: I am pretty conservative when it comes to trades: I stick with known factors/players over unknown ones. But if you can bring someone back whose ceiling is higher than “competent role player,” it could be worth it. However, because of McDyess’ exit and the imminent retirement of Duncan, hollowing out the frontcourt might not be the best idea.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: Buy, depending on what you can get in return. Blair’s contract alone won’t net you similar value in return as he doesn’t make enough to bring back good talent (was due less than $1 mil in 2011-12). But if you move it as a part of a larger package, say with Richard Jefferson, you might get a decent player or two.