Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: DeJuan Blair, Pitt

Stats: 15.7 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 5.8 orpg, 1.5 spg, 1.0 bpg, 59.3% FG, 60.5% FT, 1.3 t/o's

Listed Size: 6'7", 265 lb, 4/22/1989 (20 years old)

(photo credit: Zimbio)

About Him: There is a lot to like about DeJuan Blair as an NBA prospect, the most notable of which is his fantastic rebounding ability. He is an animal on the boards, collecting 12.3 rpg, with 5.8 of those coming on the offensive glass (which led the country).

There are a couple reasons why Blair is such a dominant rebounder. He has an ideal body for banging down low. He is a very strong 6'7" and 270 lbs (I've seen reports that he was up to as much as 315 during the season, but as shed almost 40 lbs in preparing for the draft), which gives him a low center of gravity and makes it difficult to move him off the block. But Blair has freakishly long arms (7'2" wingspan, standing reach of 8'11"), which allows him to play much taller than he is. Blair also has fantastic hands, catching everything that comes into his reach, which is all the more important given he rebounds as well out of his area as anyone I have ever seen.

Along those same lines, Blair excels at using his girth to seal off a defender in the post. He also is an excellent finisher on quick post moves, sealing his man for an easy duck-in lay-up of a quick jump hook. Where he tends to struggle is his ability to make more advanced post moves. As of now, he is not able to score as well when he has to beat a defender 1-on-1 in the post, whether it is via a back-to-the-basket post up or facing the basket.

More to the point, Blair is really ineffective with the ball anywhere beyond the block. He is not quick enough to take a defender off the dribble from 15 feet, and his jumper was virtually non-existent during the season (0.2 attempts per game). Based on his free throw shooting (down to 60.5% this year), it is safe to assume that he is going to need to improve that aspect of his game.

Since Blair survived on scoring around the basket, he became a very efficient player, shooting a robust 59.9% from the floor and posting a 38.9 PER, the highest in the country (although, much of that can be attributed to his offensive rebounding, which is scored very highly using that formula).

One other thing to mention about Blair is that with his girth, he may be the best screener in the entire draft - think about how difficult it will be for any to get around someone that size.

The biggest question mark right now for Blair is going to be on defense. Who is he going to be able to defend? For someone his size, he is impressively nimble and coordinated (as seen by his high number of steals, many of which came from him getting around an offensive player trying to hold a seal), but he is not a great athlete. He does not move well laterally and he isn't all that explosive. Can he guard power forwards that can step out and play on the perimeter? Can he hedge out and defend the pick and roll? Those are going to be the biggest concerns for him come draft day. To his credit, losing that weight can only help him get quicker.

Another big positive for Blair is going to be the intangibles he brings to the table. He doesn't have a ton of baggage. Off the court (and on the court as well), Blair is always smiling and always having a good time. He is not the kind of player that is going to come in and kill the chemistry of a team, in fact he probably will be a great locker room guy.

Comparisons: Best Case: Paul Millsap; Worst Case: Reggie Evans, Richard Hendrix.

Bottom Line: Blair is another guy that is going to fit into a role on a certain team. Given his frame and size, he should be able to rebound at the next level. When he is motivated to play, he is as active and as high energy as anyone going to the glass. But how good he will be in the league will depend solely on how well he develops the rest of his game. One thing to keep in mind - he tore both of his acl's in high school, and being just 20 years old, he is still relatively "young" as a player, so to speak.



Danny Forcella said...

Bob, if he has slimmed down can't you see him as an Elton Brand type? The wingspan can really make up for the 6'7" height. Really needs to work on that jump shot, but I'd like to see him do well.

Rob Dauster said...

The biggest difference is their offensive games. Brand averaged 18 ppg as a sophomore on an absolutely loaded Duke team, and went #1 overall in a stacked draft. Blair averaged 15 ppg this past season, but a lot of those points came off of his work on the glass.

When Brand is healthy, he is a 20 and 10 guy. I just don't see Blair being good enough on the offensive end to average 20 against NBA bigs.

TroyM said...

Ya but Elton Brand cant lock in an armbar on a 7-footer like DaJuan Blair can