April 26, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs center DeJuan Blair (45) smiles during a break in the action against the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter at ORACLE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
With apathy rising pick after pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, it was unlikely the Spurs could add any prospect of worth that late in the night. At least not a player who would see the floor much, let alone start.
However, an intriguing player was still waiting for his name to be called. It was a gamble to say the least, but with the 37th pick, the 6’7″ Pittsburgh product was taken by San Antonio.
DeJuan Blair was hampered by injuries in college, and it was a risky move by the Spurs to take an undersized post player that would be facing opponents with three-four inches on him.
Three years later, Blair has become an integral part of San Antonio’s rotation. No Spur has played in more games than DeJuan since he joined the team in the 2009-10 season, missing one game to a sprained wrist his sophomore year and two this season due to coach’s decision.
Despite missing just three games his entire career, and starting in 150 of 227 games played, newcomer Boris Diaw has replaced the 23-year-old Pittsburgh native.
The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers feature colossal front courts, and San Antonio felt Diaw would fare better than Blair in both series. Obviously, it was not a regrettable decision. Back-to-back sweeps is nothing to complain about, but it may be time Coach Pop brings back #45.
Oklahoma City has two solid big men of their own, but they are the type of players that Blair can hold his own against. If Blair is called to guard anyone, it will probably be Kendrick Perkins.
Two guys on the brink of 270 pounds would be a heavyweight fight at the low block, and Blair’s will get to crash the boards and run the floor from time to time would be trouble for Perk.
Blair has barely seen any action this postseason, while Perkins has been struggling with a hip strain. Other than Serge Ibaka, Blair could easily match-up with any post player OKC has to offer, but here’s the big problem for DeJuan.
Popovich does not make desperation moves. He does not fix things when they are not broken. Tiago Splitter is playing at a high level, and Diaw has been the missing piece to the puzzle.
If Matt Bonner keeps underperforming, Blair could take some of the Red Rocket’s minutes. It helps Blair’s case he has shot 10% above his season average in San Antonio’s three games against the Thunder this season.
Ultimately, the Spurs have the bigs to compete with the Thunder. So whether it be DeJuan or Tiago or Diaw or Bonner or that Duncan kid, San Antonio will be fine. Depth has been key, and the Spurs practically have it at every position on the court.
Game One is set for a 7:30 PM tip off this Sunday, and whether Blair sees the floor starting, coming off the bench or becomes the team’s Danny Ferry remains to be seen.
As long as San Antonio is winning, fans will be pleased.