[Editor's note: Prior to the start of the regular season on Oct. 31, I will be previewing every player on the Spurs' roster, in no particular order. Alphabetical order is lame anyway.]
Overview: In the 66-game lockout induced slate, DeJuan Blair started 62 games. He only missed two games all season. Yet when it came to the playoffs, his role was significantly reduced or, in other words, nonexistent. He averaged 14 minutes — more than an entire quarter — less in the playoffs than in the regular season. Boris Diaw was incorporated into the rotation, filling in Blair’s role as starter alongside Tim Duncan and played with an offensive proficiency that Blair could not possibly replicate. Defensively, Diaw was also an improvement over Blair. As such, don’t expect Blair to earn enough time to sustain his regular season averages (9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds).
Role: Though Blair’s rebounding percentages have dipped since his rookie seasons, he remains the Spurs’ best offensive rebounder, having grabbed 13.2% of his teammates misses while on the floor. On the other side of the floor, he is a middling defensive rebounder because he doesn’t benefit from his energy on that end. To succeed on the defensive boards, one would need to do their work early and create good position. Blair doesn’t do either particularly well.
Offensively, Blair is adept at finding space on the pick-and-roll. His ideal pick-and-roll partners are Manu Ginobili, and if Sunday’s game was any indication, Nando De Colo. They both can score from the perimeter — Ginobili more so, of course — and, most importantly, are willing and talented enough to make the difficult pocket pass to the roll man. The rest of Blair’s offensive contributions, which really isn’t much, stem from his energy. As an aside: Interestingly, in a limited sample size, Blair converted on 42% of his long 2-pointers last season. His shot appears to be improved from last season — as it is more efficient structurally, allowing him to get his shot off easier — which could help him earn minutes this season.
Future: In the final year of his rookie contract and a role that is currently undefined, the Spurs could stand to trade Blair before this years trading deadline. He is due $1.05 million this season (his salary is un-guaranteed, opening up the possibility for a release) and as Tom Ziller of SB Nation noted in August, Blair is still a valuable commodity in the open market. At this point, however, signing a long-term contract with the Spurs is unlikely.