DeJuan Blair has appeared in 227 of a possible 230 regular season games in his first three years with San Antonio. It’s this durability that contradicts the fact that he has no ACL’s (yes, literally) and should entice a couple of teams to entertain signing Blair, 23, next offseason.
Despite being overaken by Boris Diaw in the rotation, Blair is still young, an elite offensive rebounder (Blair grabbed 13.2% of offensive rebounds while he was on the floor last season, good for 10th in the entire league) and one of the most potent options in the pick-and-roll despite lacking both shooting range and athleticism.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation believes his combination of age and above-average production place him as the 29th best free agent in the 2013 class.
“Blair has been a regular starter on an insanely good team run by the best coach in the NBA. That said, when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2013, all of those fears about his lack of ACLs will come roaring back. The Spurs were hailed as brilliant for picking up Blair in the second round in 2009 and offering him a four-year deal; the financial commitment was, however, relatively small. They may blanch at paying market value for the offensive rebounding whiz. So might other teams. There will be someone willing to fork over big dollars, though. Production is production, and Blair produces in his minutes.”
Ziller makes a bunch of sense here; Blair is an effective player in the minutes he plays, compiling a 17.5 PER through three seasons of NBA play. That is a legitimate sample size and though he hampers floor spacing, his role as an offensive rebounder more than outweighs the negatives in his game.
Just because Blair isn’t as valuable with San Antonio as he would be with other teams doesn’t make him an illegitimate player. His market has been depressed because opposing teams know he is expendable and not due to a lack of production. That should not be taken as a slight on Blair’s game. It just means that a new city with a system that tailors to his strengths is much more preferable than spot duty behind Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter.