Why DeJuan Blair might not work for the Spurs

by

Maybe a better title for this post is ‘Why DeJuan Blair is not playing many minutes.’  Either way, we’re far enough into the season to make note of DeJuan Blair’s decreasingly important role on this Spurs team.

In the last 4 games, DeJuan Blair has logged 10, 6, 13, and 7 minutes. It’s odd for a starter to play end-of-the-rotation minutes, and so it has me thinking, what gives?

Against the Magic, Blair was too short to effectively defend Howard and too immobile to effectively cover Rashard Lewis. Against the Timberwolves, he earned three fouls in six minutes. Blair’s 13 minutes against the Mavericks were mostly uneventful. He used his long arms to swipe at Dirk Nowitzki’s dribble out near the arc, but aside from four rebounds and two assists, Blair’s performance was forgettable. In last night’s game against the Hornets, Popovich sent Blair to the bench after six minutes of play and he remained there until the final minute of garbage time.  One substitution and done.

DeJuan Blair is a good basketball player. He has the potential to become a permanent double-double player, and, at worst, is already a threat to rumble off the bench for a high-energy 10-10. But one wonders if Blair can become this player for San Antonio. Given the Spurs’ current personnel and playing style, Blair is a poor fit.

DeJuan Blair’s natural position is center, even at 6’7”. Last season he played almost entirely at center, and registered several great games. He went for 28 and 21 boards in 31 minutes against the Thunder, if you recall. He’s capable of explosive one-offs like that.

Blair, much like teammate Matt Bonner, is a wonderful case study of the helpfulness of adjusted plus minus. And I’d like to turn to those numbers to unravel the mystery of Blair’s limited effectiveness this season.

Last season Blair was featured in seven positive 5-man APM units. In six of those units, Blair played alongside a perimeter-oriented big — that is, Blair played center. Three of those units saw Blair paired with Matt Bonner, two with Antonio McDyess and one with Richard Jefferson.

Blair can’t shoot, and because of this it’s difficult for the Spurs to pair him with Tim Duncan. Not only does a Duncan-Blair lineup transform Tim Duncan into a long two shooting forward, but it congests potential driving lanes with help defenders.  You have to respect Tim Duncan’s jumpshot, but he’s not so deadly that his man can’t lag back. With Bonner and McDyess, defenders have to stay home. And home is typically a long way from the hoop and very close to their man. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and George Hill (a mediocre ball handler who requires ample space to perform his trademark head-down-and-go drives to the hoop) use the extra space created by Bonner/McDyess to get to the rim. When they’re able to do this, the Spurs offense hums a beautiful tune.

Tim Duncan’s natural position is center. Everyone on earth knows this, with the possible exception of Tim Duncan. The Spurs know this. This is why DeJuan Blair spent his summer trying to develop a jump shot. And from what we gathered from the Spurs coaching staff, Blair put in the time and worked hard. He’s not lazy. He gets after it. But it just hasn’t come together for Blair, which is obvious to all those who’ve watched the Spurs this season.

Because of his height and girth, Blair is a poor defensive match up against long bigs such as Pau Gasol and shooting fours such as Rashard Lewis. And without a jumpshot, he doesn’t work well alongside Duncan, who, as we noted, plays best at center. Again, the APM numbers bear this out.

Last season the Spurs used Blair in thirteen lineups which tallied enough minutes for reliable 5-man data. Five of those thirteen featured a Duncan-Blair tandem, and four of those five featured a negative APM.  Minus 2.93, 4.40, 5.65, and 16.09, to be exact. And while it’s true that there is a Duncan-Blair unit that registered a positive 6.79 and two Bonner-Blair lineups that sank the Spurs’ battleship at minus 0.98 and minus 8.43, it’s generally the case that Blair plays better as a ball collecting center alongside a floor spacing forward.

This pattern is true again this year. Blair appears in two positive 5-man units. To be fair, one of those lineups is Parker-Hill-Jefferson-Blair-Duncan. Through November 26, that lineup is plus 0.97. Barely better than their opponents, but better nonetheless. Plus 0.97 is Blair’s most effective appearance as a power forward. The unit of Hill-Neal-Ginobili-Jefferson-Blair is plus 23.90 and scores a point for Blair as a center and for San Antonio small-ball configurations.

In terms of regular lineups, Blair is featured in four additional looks. In three of those lineups Blair plays power forward for APMs of minus 0.6, minus 6.82 and minus 53.73.

San Antonio’s best floor units are those that supply driving lanes for their guards and single coverage for Tim Duncan.  Through November 26,  San Antonio has fielded 9 successful lineups. Two of those feature Blair–the aforementioned small-ball set and the plus 0.96 Blair-Duncan offering. The other 7 positive lineups pair Tim Duncan with either Antonio McDyess or Matt Bonner. (Tiago Splitter has not played enough for reliable plus/minus data. But we’ll look at those numbers in the coming weeks.)

This sounds counter-intuitive, but DeJuan Blair is best suited to play in a transition offense that boasts a bevy of shooters. Blair would thrive in the NY Knicks offense, for example. He makes smart outlet passes, is fast enough to run the floor with smalls, and is always happy to clean the offensive glass and reset the clock for a surrounding cast of jump-shooting specialists.  San Antonio can field these sort of lineups, but they’ll never do so in the closing minutes of the game.

Or, more precisely, when the Spurs play 1 in, 4 out in the final minutes of a game, Tim Duncan is their 1 in, not DeJuan Blair. Morever, when Gregg Popovich begins to play chess with opposing coaches, the only creative option that involves DB moves him from forward to center in a small-ball set.

  • Dr. Who

    @Jim

    Good to be back… Yep I agree that the best way for rapid improvement is against good competition. But at some point it becomes counter productive (as you stated). I get visions of rookie QB’s being sacked 10 times a game here… Hard to tell if that is the case with Blair, too much too soon? It’s out of our hands and up to the coaches. They have a decent track record when they decide to actually develop talent (we won’t mention Beno here just everyone else) so we’ll wait and see.

    The wonderful thing about the 100 comments here is that we currently have the best record in the league and we’re debating about a starting 4/5. Last year at this time we were calling for Pop’s head because he continued to trot out a starting line-up with Bonner and his mancrush Finely. What a difference a year makes! On that note, as far as suitable replaements for Blair in the starting line-up, Bonner should be left off the list. He’s definitely had his moments this short season but when he has been thrust in the the starting line-up it is very clear that he is not suited to take on starting 4/5′s. A solid bench stretch 4 is what he is; great for certain situations when you wnat to stretch the floor and improve spacing. Dyess and Tiago are the obvious choices. If Tiago can learn to play alongside Duncan that would be fantastic, I’m not sold on this idea or his game yet (but I really want to be). I’d prefer to keep Dyess on the bench and not have him play heavy minutes. We’ll need him come playoff time and don’t need to burn him out during the regular season. Good thing is, the team can still greatly improve, oh yeah and Miami is big ball of drama mess… life is good :)

  • Gary

    Obviously his side doesn’t fit our needs, but I still love him as a Spurs

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    If this were 2004, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The fact of the matter is though, because Timmeh will not have many productive seasons ahead of him, we can’t really afford to take time to develop a player as crucial to the rotation as Blair. Unfortunately, that means Blair becomes a very valuable trade piece, since what Blair brings to the table now isn’t fitting the holes that the Spurs have. I think Varner’s trade proposal makes a lot of sense because it kills two birds with one stone. While I’m not a huge fan of Bill Walker (not as big of one as Tim) he does fill the wing need we have (able to play behind both Manu and RJ, making Gary Neal that 3pt specialist) as well as replacing the minutes that needed to go to Blair, without trading anything more than Blair, Quinn, and Udoka. Frankly, Randolph and Walker are a better pair than anything we can likely scrounge from free agency and I don’t see Timmeh’s minutes increasing, which means we need someone else in the frontcourt because too many things need to go right for McDyess, Bonner, and Splitter to cover the difference in Timmeh’s decreased floor time. Tiago is not a shot-blocking presence, but Randolph is. That is the precise reason I wanted us to trade for Darko a couple years back when he was vegetating on the end of the Knicks’ bench. Randolph and Walker make the most sense and Blair would thrive in D’Antoni’s offense.

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    Frankly, I don’t see any reason to NOT do a Randolph for Blair swap considering the upside Randolph has. I’m a big per 36 guy and Randolph’s rookie per 36 rivaled David Robinson’s. Now there may be underlying (read: attitude) issues that I’m unaware of, but even if Blair suddenly becomes the second coming of Charles Barkley, we know that his NBA career is limited in terms of duration. I’m not calling for an abandon ship, but I think this is something to seriously consider, especially as it does solve two of our problems in one go.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    I think I should have elaborated…the Spurs Front Office is light years ahead of the rest of the teams in the league. The Spurs have perfected finding diamonds stashed overseas and the rest of the teams in the NBA literally have to account for the Spurs every NBA Draft. I think that Pop and RC have learned from giving up talented young players and are committed to drafting and developing their young guys so that they can always have players coming up. Since RC has taken over, they have hit more than they have missed.

  • Jim Henderson

    rob
    November 30th, 2010 at 4:36 am

    “And a very good shot blocker/rim protector. Something yourself have been begging the Spurs to get.”

    I do like Randolph’s skill set, and his shot-blocking ability is one reason why I would not reject as out of hand a Blair/Randolph trade. However, in the final analysis I would not pull the trigger on that deal for the reason that I’ve already reiterated twice on this thread.

    “So if Blair hasn’t developed these qualities to be dependent upon to do reasonably well and garnish more time and the only thing he does well so far is rebound and make occasional steals….is that not the same as if Bonner isn’t hitting his 3 point shots to be a liability for the team because of the lack of ability to do other things well?”

    No, because rebounding is inherently a more stable skill than 3-point shooting, and Blair doesn’t make just an occasional steal, he’s one of the best on the entire team. Bonner does one thing well, shooting the three, which can be fickle, and he hasn’t even demonstrated success with it in the playoffs, when it matters.

    “Regarding the Knicks proposed trade…In D’Antoni’s system Blair’s assests would be beneficial to the Knicks more so than to the Spurs because he wouldn’t be relied upon or expected to do no other than what he’s already good at doing.”

    So you think it’s smart for a player to be in a system where he’s encouraged not to develop, but to simply maximize what he has at the age of 21. Okay, I get it!

    “And the lack of heart and desire tag being given to Randolph is based on who’s opinion?”

    A consensus from all the players, coaches, organizations that have worked with him.

    “Blair and Quinn + a first rounder for Randolph works just as well. And could be done now without waiting until the 15th.”

    Anyone that does that deal is a nut.

    Tim in Surrey
    November 30th, 2010 at 4:52 am

    “This isn’t about who’s going to guard Rashard Lewis the best tonight. It’s about doing a good job on him while still developing the team.”

    Nice, insightful point, Tim. It amazes me that so many don’t get that simple, but hugely important point if one wants to sustain a healthy franchise.

    “It’s extraordinarily difficult to rebuild while winning, but they did it. Nobody gave Pop and RC much credit for this remarkable achievement, though, because they assumed it was due to Duncan’s dominance. But it took a lot more than just Tim to win a championship and they worked hard to add the necessary pieces while still playing at a high level.”

    Very well put!

    jwalt
    November 30th, 2010 at 8:58 am

    “By the time he left the game West was on a roll, and it would have taken a young Kevin Garnett to slow him down by that point.”

    If Bonner and/or McDyess were guarding West from the outset he very well would have lit them up as well. West has always been know as a flame-thrower to begin games. He has a virtually unstoppable game if he’s on. He was “on” Sunday night, and it would not have mattered which of our 4/5′s was guarding from the opening tip.

    spursfanbayarea
    November 30th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    “Sorry but it states the LATER of the two. I see you are going to go the Jim Henderson route of never admitting to be wrong.”

    I admit I’m wrong when I am “wrong”. But of course I’m not going to admit I’m “wrong” just because my view differs from someone else’s. Surely you can’t expect that.

    Regarding the Quinn trade example, you appear to be correct, unless the source at the link provided is incorrect:

    “Generally, a player cannot be traded until three months after signing a contract or December 15th of that season, whichever is later.”

    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#Q83

    That said, I don’t think that Tim is refusing to admit that he was in error. You appear to be jumping to conclusions there. He may have simply misread the source material. And in fact, the quote you provided seems to be missing one key passage to back up your point on this issue. At the end of what you quoted should have read something like, “which ever comes later”. This language is made necessary because of the, “or” (ii) the December 15 of the Salary Cap Year in which such Contract
    was signed”.

    Hobson13
    November 30th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    “We still very much need another shot blocking 7-footer hence Tim’s trade suggestion.

    We could have gotten a shot-blocker, if that’s what we wanted, without giving up Blair! His name is Lou Amundson.

    “Well said. Our fast start has virtually nothing to do with Blair’s production on the court.”

    That is absurd! You have NO evidence to support such a conclusion. This team would not be 14-2 without DeJuan Blair’s contribution this season. In fact, the team was 11-1 BEFORE his minutes dropped significantly after game #12, and is just 3-1 since.

    “The Blair apologist’s conveniently dismiss the facts that he is playing slightly more minutes than last year and yet his scoring and rebounding have fallen.”

    I’m not an “apologist”, for anyone. The 21 year old Blair is trying to broaden his game. He’s playing with four of our starters, who are all all-star players and very good scorers, and against the 1st unit players of the opposing team. Of course we’re likely to see a modest drop-off in his numbers to start the season. BIG DEAL! It’s not relevant for the big picture, which is winning games now (14-2!), and sustaining the health of the franchise beyond this year. And by the way, Blair still has the best rebounding rate on a team that has Tim Duncan & Antonio McDyess. Not too shabby. Plus his steal % is 3rd on the entire team, just a fraction behind Manu Ginobli & Tony Parker, and this represents a 33% increase from his steal % from last year.

    “…..but he is not untouchable and if you can pick up two young pieces (Randolph and Walker) for the price of Blair and a late 1st round pick, then the FO would take a serious look at that opportunity.”

    Dr. Who
    November 30th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Number one, nobody said he’s “untouchable”. Number two, why would you want Walker now with the emergence of Anderson? They’re the same player!

    “On that note, as far as suitable replacements for Blair in the starting line-up, Bonner should be left off the list.”

    No question about it. Bonner IS NOT a starter on a 14-2 team. No way.

    “A solid bench stretch 4 is what he is; great for certain situations when you wnat to stretch the floor and improve spacing.”

    Yes, and even then, he has not produced in this role in the playoffs. Therefore, we should not be playing him too many minutes at the expense of developing two promising young “bigs”, Blair & Splitter. Bonner should average 15 mpg., tops, especially when Anderson returns.

    “I’d prefer to keep Dyess on the bench and not have him play heavy minutes.”

    Agreed.

    “Good thing is, the team can still greatly improve, oh yeah and Miami is big ball of drama mess… life is good :)”

    Yeah you probably know that I’m celebrating along with you!

  • Bushka

    At the end of the day Dejuan is 6’6.

    He has to be able to play Power Forward. So we give him time to build a PF skillset.

    Until that happens it’s not such a bad thing to have a rebound mad kid available. I doubt you trade him unless it’s for a known quantity.

  • Jim Henderson

    Jaceman
    November 30th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    “The fact of the matter is though, because Timmeh will not have many productive seasons ahead of him, we can’t really afford to take time to develop a player as crucial to the rotation as Blair.”

    WRONG!

    “While I’m not a huge fan of Bill Walker (not as big of one as Tim) he does fill the wing need we have (able to play behind both Manu and RJ, making Gary Neal that 3pt specialist) as well as replacing the minutes that needed to go to Blair, without trading anything more than Blair, Quinn, and Udoka.”

    Yeah, what about James Anderson, he’ll be back in a month you know. They’re the SAME player!

    “Tiago is not a shot-blocking presence, but Randolph is.”

    The need for a shot-blocking presence has been known for several months now. If the FO believed it was a necessary hole to fill then they would have signed Amundson, and not even have to give up Blair for an unproven Randolph, with work ethic issues, that can’t even earn minutes on the weak front line of the .500 team Knick’s (other than Amare).

  • Jim Henderson

    Hobson13
    November 30th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    “…..but he is not untouchable and if you can pick up two young pieces (Randolph and Walker) for the price of Blair and a late 1st round pick, then the FO would take a serious look at that opportunity.”

    Number one, nobody said he’s “untouchable”. Number two, why would you want Walker now with the emergence of Anderson? They’re the same player!

    Dr. Who
    November 30th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    The following excerpt from a previous comment was not supposed to be in my post to you. It was meant to be directed to Hobson:

    “Number one, nobody said he’s “untouchable”. Number two, why would you want Walker now with the emergence of Anderson? They’re the same player!”

    Sorry.

  • Daniel T

    Jaceman:
    You’ve apparently skipped by the references to the fact that neither Quinn nor Udoka can be traded until 90 days after they were signed, so that would be in late February. I don’t believe you could get as much talent in return in a straight up trade at his salary level, and if he’s packaged it would have to be something more complex involving players considered more critical than the 12th & 13th players.

    Regan wrote: “Blair really is a 4″
    It seems like his skills are those of a 5, while his height is that of a 3. Did you come up with a 4 by averaging those out?

    He could become more of a 4 if he could develop an outside shot. Most players don’t begin to do that after college, even though he has had some improvement in his free throw shooting. But if he did move out more, his most valuable contribution of offensive rebounding would decline as he’d less often have the position.

    One of the reasons not often mentioned is that Pop didn’t have as many choices early in the season as to who would be his starter in Blair’s spot. Tiago was injured, and Bonner became injured during the first game. If Pop didn’t like what he was seeing from Blair, he didn’t have much choice at the beginning of the season. Blair has still been in there recently, but averaging only about 9 minutes in the last 4 games.

  • Hobson13

    “We could have gotten a shot-blocker, if that’s what we wanted, without giving up Blair! His name is Lou Amundson.”

    Yes, we both agreed months ago that Amundson would have been great. At this point, our missing out on Lou is water under the bridge and does nothing to fix our current needs.

    “That is absurd! You have NO evidence to support such a conclusion. This team would not be 14-2 without DeJuan Blair’s contribution this season. In fact, the team was 11-1 BEFORE his minutes dropped significantly after game #12, and is just 3-1 since.”

    Blair averages fewer points, rebounds, and blocks in more minutes this year. Last year Blair was 8th on the team in the area of +- per minute. This year, he is still 8th on the team in the +- category. This year he is either the same or worse in the areas of points, rebounds, blocks, and assists and only slightly better in steals. So how again does he play a big part in our 14-2 start? Our quick start is a function of several things, but Blair has little to do with any of them.

    “Number one, nobody said he’s “untouchable”.

    With that said, Jim, under what trade scenarios would you be willing to trade Blair this year in an attempt to shore up our deficiencies?

    “Number two, why would you want Walker now with the emergence of Anderson? They’re the same player!”

    He’s another decent young player. Yes, he may be redundant with Anderson, but can you really stock up with too much young potential? You may disagree, but I don’t think so. If Anderson works out, then trade Walker. If Walker is the better player, then let Anderson go. Secondly, he wouldn’t be the primary piece we would obtain in the trade. That distinction would belong to Randolph.

  • ThatBigGuy

    If we didn’t talk about Blair, what would we talk about?

    I took some time to compare his stats from last year to this year. Nearly every big stat is down across the board. The only thing that hasn’t fallen are his offensive rebounding numbers, which have stayed the exact same (2.4 vs 2.4).

    ’09-’10 First 16 (’09-’10) First 16 (’10-’11)

    MPG 18.2 15.5 19.3

    PPG 7.8 6.9 5.5

    RPG 6.4 5.9 6.4

    FG% .556 (275-495) .620 (49-79) .400 (38-95)

    FT% .547 (88-161) .450 (9-20) .800 (12-15)

    His minutes are up, but his rebounding has not increased. He’s shot more shots through the first 16 games than he did through the first 16 games last season, but his FG% is brutal and therefore his scoring average is way down. His FT% is way up, but he’s shot 25% less through 16 games, and his FTA per game so far this season is less than half of what it was last season (0.9 vs 2.0).

    Last year he played a much more important role because he rebounded (like he’s doing this year), shot 56% from the field, and drew fouls. Plus, Dice wasn’t having a good regular season and Bonner was hurt a lot, leaving Blair as the default 2nd big. This season he starts off as the 2nd big, only his rebounds don’t increase relative to his MPG, his shots per game increase but his FG% takes a hideous nosedive, and he’s not drawing fouls, which is a double whammy because his FT% is light years better. Add those woes to the fact that Dice is playing great, Bonner is shooting amazing, and Splitter joined the team, and now Blair’s the number 5 big.

    I end with a quote from Hollinger:

    “He’s a fantastic value as a second-round pick, but one wonders if this roster is the best complement for his skill set.”

  • ThatBigGuy

    The numbers I posted didn’t line up right. The first number is from the entire ’09-’10 season, the second number is the first 16 games of ’01-’10, and the third number is from the first 16 games this season.

    Sorry if it’s confusing.

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    @Jim Henderson
    How many more “productive” seasons do you think we’ll see out of Timmeh before he retires? Realistically? His minutes and production have all been dropping, and frankly Blair is further off from what we need him to be. As currently constructed, I see winning a championship a long-shot.

    I’m not denying the necessity of maintaining a strong franchise, I don’t think anyone is. However good DeJuan Blair becomes, we know that his ceiling is very limited by the simple fact of his knees. If he goes off and proves me wrong, then kudos to him. I’d pull the trigger not for Walker, but for Randolph, and again, I’m not claiming to know exactly why Randolph hasn’t flourished, and maybe it won’t work out for us, but don’t go randomly accusing people of not thinking about the future of the franchise. At this point, what I think I’m in agreement with Tim about is that Blair is a square peg that we are trying to fit into the round hole of the Spurs’ roster. No matter how awesome that peg is it’s still a square. We can round it off to a circle, but that takes time, and my question is, do we have it? I frankly don’t see this being resolved this season, and I frankly don’t think we can afford to wait another season for Blair to develop into the player we need. I’m not saying he can’t, but we frankly don’t have the luxury of Tim Duncan’s younger years with Blair that we had with Malik Rose.

    Anderson has shown flashes of being solid, but I can’t say we’ve seen enough of him, again I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a huge fan of Bill Walker, no one here is saying you HAVE to pull the trigger, but the options are one to consider. I’d like to have options as to who can guard Kevin Durants of the league. I love what I’ve seen from Anderson, but I’m not sold on him as a defensive stopper at both wing positions.

    @ Daniel T
    This is mostly a hypothetical, and I cede that we won’t be able to do anything with Quinn or Udoka until February, but it’s something to think about, unless you’re thinking we need to package Hill/McDyess/Neal/Bonner with Blair. I don’t think we’ll get straight up value at his salary level, but never say never. Every single player that I want that is even semi-realistic for the Spurs to land is way more than Blair’s tradeable salary level, but we’re just speculating right now anyways right? In terms of the salary and reasoning, Tim’s speculation works for now, perhaps not in the timing that we want it to, but it works. I don’t think it’s a perfect trade, but it’s the most realistic one I can think of at the moment.

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    On a completely separate note: Tim, I don’t see this happening until Kelenna Azubuike returns fully healthy and shows he can still be better than Walker.

  • Daniel T

    Hobson13:
    I take it you are proposing trading Blair and a first round pick for both Randolph and Walker. I don’t know if you have figured out a way that you could make such a trade work. For one thing, since Randolph was recently acquired in a trade he cannot be packaged with another player (Walker); you’d have to be able to work out two trades that would both work.

    Next thing would be to figure out how you would make this work while remaining under the salary cap. The Spurs would pick up $2.8m in salaries while trading away only $.9m. Somehow I guess the New Orleans/Toronto trade was worked out without matching salaries by getting an agreement from Peja to take less, were you going to get Randolph to agree to a salary reduction?

  • Jim Henderson

    Daniel T
    November 30th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    “Blair has still been in there recently, but averaging only about 9 minutes in the last 4 games.”

    The point is, the Spurs were 11-1 when Blair was averaging 23 mpg.

    Hobson13
    November 30th, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    “At this point, our missing out on Lou is water under the bridge and does nothing to fix our current needs.”

    The point is, THE FO OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T THINK IT IS A NEED OF OURS otherwise they would have looked to sign someone like Amundson in the off-season.

    “….slightly better in steals..”

    He’s NOT “slightly better in steals” this year. As I said, if you’d listen, his steal % has increased 33% this year compared to last year. There’s NO way to describe that as a “slight increase”. As for the other stat declines, you’ve chosen to ignore the entirely valid explanation that I provided in my previous comment:

    “The 21 year old Blair is trying to broaden his game. He’s playing with four of our starters, who are all all-star players and very good scorers, and against the 1st unit players of the opposing team. Of course we’re likely to see a modest drop-off in his numbers to start the season.”

    “So how again does he play a big part in our 14-2 start? Our quick start is a function of several things, but Blair has little to do with any of them.”

    Oh yeah, prove it. Start anybody you like in place of him and I doubt we have ANY other 11-1 stretch over the whole rest of the season (since his minutes have dropped, so has our winning %). During that 11-1 stretch Blair was averaging 23 mpg. He was a significant PART of that 11-1 TEAM! He led the team in REBOUND %!! The most steals of ANY BIG on the team! He has unequivocally helped to fuel or transition offense! Why are you making it sound as though he was just some meaningless, ancillary, interchangeable piece. Ridiculous!

    “With that said, Jim, under what trade scenarios would you be willing to trade Blair this year in an attempt to shore up our deficiencies?”

    Unless the FO was truly open to trading “Bonner” to help close these “deficiencies”, deficiencies that they apparently don’t see (or have a suitable solution to), I wouldn’t be interested in trading Blair for anything less than a legitimate starter/rotation player that still has upside (in a package for Ibaka, for example).

    “He’s another decent young player. Yes, he may be redundant with Anderson, but can you really stock up with too much young potential?”

    Yes, particularly when you’re talking about giving up Blair to do it!

    “You may disagree, but I don’t think so. If Anderson works out, then trade Walker.”

    Running a revolving door of even rotation players is not the best way to build a franchise.

    “Secondly, he wouldn’t be the primary piece we would obtain in the trade. That distinction would belong to Randolph.”

    Yes, which I’ve already stated I have some problems with.

  • Dr. Who

    ThatBigGuy
    “If we didn’t talk about Blair, what would we talk about? ”

    You hit it on the head! This means October/November has been veeeery good to us! Let’s hope we keep squawking about issues like this. It means everythign else looks pretty good.

  • Jim Henderson

    ThatBigGuy
    November 30th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    “His minutes are up, but his rebounding has not increased.”

    He’s played much more this season WITH one of the best rebounders in the modern era, Tim Duncan!!!!!!!

    “He’s shot more shots through the first 16 games than he did through the first 16 games last season, but his FG% is brutal and therefore his scoring average is way down.”

    He’s attempting to broaden his game, and he’s going up against a number of very experienced 1st units on the opposing team. It’s the best way for him to improve over time.

    “His FT% is way up, but he’s shot 25% less through 16 games…”

    Again, his reduction in attempts is a function of him adjusting to playing against 1st units, and our starters!! What is so hard to get about that!

    “I end with a quote from Hollinger:

    “He’s a fantastic value as a second-round pick, but one wonders if this roster is the best complement for his skill set.””

    You know what, I don’t give a shit about some out of context quote from Hollinger.

    Jaceman
    November 30th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    “How many more “productive” seasons do you think we’ll see out of Timmeh before he retires? Realistically?”

    I don’t care, however long he can play is great.

    It’s ALWAYS been a long-shot. I’m glad you’ve caught up, but Blair’s not the scapegoat.

    “However good DeJuan Blair becomes, we know that his ceiling is very limited by the simple fact of his knees.”

    No we don’t know that at all.

    “….but don’t go randomly accusing people of not thinking about the future of the franchise.”

    I don’t go “randomly” accusing anyone of anything. I very logically & methodically call a spade a spade, and I just happen to have a penchant for pushing some buttons along the way in an effort to rattle the cages of denial.

    “I’m in agreement with Tim about is that Blair is a square peg that we are trying to fit into the round hole of the Spurs’ roster.”

    Wrong, and nobody has yet presented a compelling case for this assertion.

    ” I’d like to have options as to who can guard Kevin Durants of the league.”

    Yeah, I’d like to have Michael Jordan in his prime, too.

    “I love what I’ve seen from Anderson, but I’m not sold on him as a defensive stopper at both wing positions.”

    And you’re sold on Walker in that role?!

  • Tyler

    I’ve heard Ibaka’s name mentioned a few times over the past few posts…

    Let me say this: He is going nowhere. He is the third of three untouchables on OKC’s roster.

    If he were traded for Blair, there would be a riot in OKC.

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    @ Jim Henderson
    No one is blaming Blair for whatever potential pitfalls may come, but honestly, you can’t think that as long as Duncan plays we have a chance. I’m a huge Duncan homer, but the fact of the matter is that, Tim Duncan circa 2011 isn’t going to be Tim Duncan circa 2003, no where close, and Blair isn’t making up for the difference. If we both agree that it’s always a long shot, and I can agree with you that this trade isn’t ideal, then compel me as to what in regards to Blair’s game currently is working with the Spurs’ roster. There has to be a good reason Pop is benching him right? From what I’ve seen, Blair isn’t a good fit, and frankly I’m not inclined to waste Duncan’s waning years trying to make him one. Even if it is always a long shot to win a title that’s no reason to bail on trying to improve our chances. There’s no reason we can’t become a better team and maintain franchise stability with or without DeJuan Blair. He’s not going to become the second coming of Charles Barkley, so I’m sorry if you think he’ll become a future cornerstone of the franchise, because frankly, if he does, the Spurs really won’t be all that good.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    “If he were traded for Blair, there would be a riot in OKC.”

    I wasn’t suggesting a one for one deal, and I know it would be hard to pry Ibaka. It should not be very easy to trade Blair either.

    Splitter/Blair for Ibaka/Sefolosha is a more meaningful starting point, with probably a late bench big for OKC thrown in, and a late bench player on our team (wing/guard) thrown in as well.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Jim

    “He’s played much more this season WITH one of the best rebounders in the modern era, Tim Duncan!!!!!!”

    Oh, you mean the Tim whose RPG have decreased due to his decreased MGP, leaving more rebounds available? That Timmy?

    “He’s attempting to broaden his game, and he’s going up against a number of very experienced 1st units on the opposing team. It’s the best way for him to improve over time.”

    You broaden your game in the offseason and spring training. If the new game doesn’t work during the season (which it hasn’t), then you go back to what you do best and try again next offseason.

    “Again, his reduction in attempts is a function of him adjusting to playing against 1st units, and our starters!! What is so hard to get about that!”

    By your flawed logic, he should have less FGA. However, he’s had more FGA, yet his FTA have been slashed by half. That means he’s getting blocked more and fouled less. Either he’s not drawing contact like last year or he’s not getting calls. Either way, he needs to adjust his game, if he even can.

    “You know what, I don’t give a shit about some out of context quote from Hollinger.”

    Tim writes this in the original post: “Given the Spurs’ current personnel and playing style, Blair is a poor fit.” How is the Hollinger quote, which is exactly the same thing, out of context?

  • Colin

    Jim

    Give it a break man

  • Jim Henderson

    Jaceman
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    “There has to be a good reason Pop is benching him right?

    It’s called a process of player development for a player like Blair, but of course you and others on here obviously don’t understand player development.

    ” From what I’ve seen, Blair isn’t a good fit, and frankly I’m not inclined to waste Duncan’s waning years trying to make him one.”

    Tim Duncan is not the most important variable for the future of this franchise. That time has passed.

    “Even if it is always a long shot to win a title that’s no reason to bail on trying to improve our chances.”

    Yes, but acquiring Randolph for Blair does not meaningfully help our chances.

    “There’s no reason we can’t become a better team and maintain franchise stability with or without DeJuan Blair.

    It depends on who you get back, doesn’t it?! Randolph is not the answer.

    “He’s not going to become the second coming of Charles Barkley, so I’m sorry if you think he’ll become a future cornerstone of the franchise, because frankly, if he does, the Spurs really won’t be all that good.”

    Don’t be ridiculous. I never suggested any such thing! I don’t mind engaging in reasonable conversations, but I don’t enjoy nonsense.

  • Hobson13

    Daniel T
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    “I take it you are proposing trading Blair and a first round pick for both Randolph and Walker.”

    This isn’t my trade proposal. It was Tim’s and yes I think it makes sense on several levels. Of course if this were to happen it would take place sometime in the future. Perhaps Blair will simply play better so we can avoid this hot button topic.

    Jim Henderson
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    “Oh yeah, prove it.”

    At this point, I think you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing. I just explained that his stats virtually across the board (except for steals that I will touch on in a moment) have dropped. How could anyone in their right mind visually see a player struggling and then have the statistics to back it up this assertion and yet still believe he has been an integral part of a team that is playing superior ball compared to last year? This is why I referred to you as a Blair apologist. In the two years I’ve participated in this blog, I’ve never seen you stick to such an indefensible point.

    “He’s NOT “slightly better in steals” this year.”

    Here’s the bottom line. He went from averaging .67 steal/game last year to 1 steal/game this year. Percentage wise it’s a HUGE improvement. In reality, he averages 1 more steal per 3 games. Your 33% improvement is a misleading stat, Jim.

    “Running a revolving door of even rotation players is not the best way to build a franchise.”

    You call it having a revolving door. I call it having options.

    “I wouldn’t be interested in trading Blair for anything less than a legitimate starter/rotation player that still has upside (in a package for Ibaka, for example).”

    Ibaka in year 2
    10.8ppg 6.9 rebs 2.1 blks .2 assts in 27min/game

    Randolph in year 2
    11.6ppg 6.5 rebs 1.5 blks 1.3 assts in 23min/game

    You know where I’m going with this. When healthy, Randolph is a better offensive player and a comparable defensive player. Besides, OKC would never give up Ibaka. They are short of inside muscle as it is.

    I say this over and over again, but I’ll say it one more time. I’m not against Blair. I’m a huge Blair fan. In fact, I’d be the first to congratulate him if he had a 20/20 game against the W’s tonight. I want him to break out of this slump. However, at some point, he will need to settle down and produce. We are 16 games into the season and he’s shown little ability to be a factor in the starting lineup and has in fact looked worse this year than in his rookie campaign.

  • Jim Henderson

    Colin
    November 30th, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    If anything needs a break it’s the “bail on Blair” folk that need to give it a rest.

  • Jim Henderson

    Hobson13
    November 30th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    “At this point, I think you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing.”

    I’m afraid that’s the other way around. I’ve given entirely valid, detailed descriptions for my positions on Blair. Many of you just ignore the facts and wander about with a “bail on Blair” rant because he hasn’t met YOUR inflated expectations.

    “Your 33% improvement is a misleading stat, Jim.”

    That is ridiculous!

    “I call it having options.”

    Yeah, options with no real plan or identity. I’ll pass.

    “Ibaka in year 2
    10.8ppg 6.9 rebs 2.1 blks .2 assts in 27min/game”

    Ibaka has had a shot due to injuries to get more minutes. I never said that we could get him for Blair one for one.

    “Randolph in year 2
    11.6ppg 6.5 rebs 1.5 blks 1.3 assts in 23min/game”

    Yeah, with a crappy, run & gun, undisciplined Warrior team.

    “However, at some point, he will need to settle down and produce. We are 16 games into the season and he’s shown little ability to be a factor in the starting lineup and has in fact looked worse this year than in his rookie campaign.”

    I’m not bailing on a 21 year old player with great promise over 16 games. If you are, I’m glad you’re not running the franchise.

  • Bankshot21

    I’ve reached my wicks end with this nonsense that Jim Henderson continues to offer as expert analysis. 1st you praise Blair for being apart of our 14-2 team, then you scoff Bonner for playoff struggles even though he is currently apart of this same 14-2 start. Who gives a damn about how the man played in spot minutes in the playoffs. Blair wasn’t exactly Dennis Rodman in the playoffs himself so for the love of whoever you pray to please stop bringing up this playoff crap. Please stop bringing up Blair’s age. Please stop with the Millsap talk. Please understand that you have single handedly made many of us knock Blair whom under normal circumstances we would cheer. Tim In Surrey, I respect your opinion more, as it isn’t as smug but do you seriously think less production in increased minutes which is decreasing is helping this kids development? Apart of being a pro is if you don’t perform you ride the pine. Blair can give us sooooo much it’s crazy. But the notion that he can only be developed in a starting role is laughable. Back to you Jim…to mention that the team was 11-1 with Blair logging big minutes and “just 3-1″ when he logged less minutes is pure stupidity. You compared a 13 game sample size against a 4 game sample size. The more appropriate comparison would be the 1st 4 game with big minutes (3-1) versus the last 4 games with very few minutes (3-1) and its a complete wash. The frustration has clearly slipped out a little and for that I do apologize. I do not mean to bring the quality or integrity of this fine blog down but enough is enough. We all watched Blair get smoked last game and this man made a load of crap excuse as to how West “could have” had the same amount of points against the other defenders. Should have, could have, and would have means nada in the grand scheme of things. And as 1 of the bloggers mention he did get in the zone after tearing through Blair’s swiss cheese defense. I mean West is good…but he’s not THAT good. He looked Malonish out there against Blair. I hope Blair gets it together and does what starters are expected to do at age 21 or age 31. These are professionals and if you can’t do what’s asked of you then find a nice comfty seat next to Jacques Vaughn.

  • Gregg

    i think maybe hes off to a bad start . but he did manage to get over 500 pts and rbs last year whi. ch maybe only a little more than 50 other players did , Im not sure whats wrong .maybe he will be a great rebounder who just cant get the points,but when he decided to come out to the nba he should have been more ready i would like the spurs to keep him and see if things dont get better. I think he can and i would hate to see him do so well elsewhere like scola is doing for the rockets now

  • Bankshot21

    *12 game sample size

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  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    Gents and ladies,

    Maybe we should shut this one down. It’s never a good thing when fans of the same team begin to cannibalize one another. When discussions turn into diatribes, it sort of kills the fun of enjoying the team, which is, after all, really playing well this season.

    If you feel yourself drifting into comment thread jerk windbag territory, let the other person have the last word and move on.

    On a brighter note, at least we’re all passionate about the team. Imagine what a force Spurs fans would be if we didn’t spend so much time beating on each another.

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