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Wizards 2014-15 Player Previews: DeJuan Blair


2013-2014 Key Stats

Games played, started: 78, 13

Total minutes, per game: 1214, 15.6

Points per game: 6.4

Field goals: 210-393 (.534)

Rebounds per game: 4.7

Total blocks 21

In what was a brilliant offseason for Ernie Grunfeld (still having trouble writing that without it actually being sarcastic anymore), one of the most expected, then least expected, then surprise moves was the acquisition of DeJuan Blair from the Dallas Mavericks.

As rumors floated around, DeJuan was one of the biggest names being floated around with the Wizards’ name, then Ernie surprised everyone and signed Kris Humphries. But then he hit fans and media with an extra surprise and went on ahead and picked up DeJuan Blair a short time later, constructing one of the deepest frontcourts in the entire league.

Backing up powerhouse Nene, Blair will come into a rotation where strong big men have been a huge factor leading up to the 2014 playoff run. While the Vine-lights are few-to-none (as #MavericksTwitter is drier than the Sahara), we’ll find other measures to explore our predictions for DeJuan in the upcoming season.

The Best and Worst of 2013-14

Dejuan had a healthy 2013-2014 campaign logging minutes in 78 regular season games and six postseason games when the Mavs matched up versus the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. Serving as a spark off the bench, Blair is deceptively mobile in the post for a big man without ACLs and thanks to his size, he can fight through contact to complete the play.

While his averages were nothing spectacular (even for coming off the bench), the most promising thing about Blair’s 2013-2014 season was his performance in the postseason against his former team. He logged two double-doubles in the series and showed some spark that had been missing throughout most of the regular season.

One aspect of his game that will make Wizards fans cringe is his atrocious free throw shooting (he ended the season with an average of just over 63% at the line). As the season progressed, free throw shooting only became more of an issue for the Wiz and even more so in the playoffs. DeJuan, unfortunately, will not be able to help much in this aspect as some teams even became prone to the ‘Hack-A-Blair’ method. You can’t be too distraught about this, however, when you realize the amount of big men on this team and the type of physical presence he’s going to incur upon other teams.

And when all else fails, he’ll kick you in the head?

An uninspired season in Dallas and a new future in Washington

On a conference call with numerous DC reporters, DeJuan Blair stated his feelings on the 2013-2014 season and his feelings on playing in Washington. After being traded to the Mavericks, he admitted feeling a bit uninspired the entire season, describing it as follows:

“It was just a lot of things I wasn’t into at the time…”

However, his 2014 playoff campaign saw a new look in DeJuan as he finally broke out of his self-proclaimed slump. “You watch those games, I was smiling. So basketball became fun again.”

Things only continue to look up for Blair, who seems to be more excited surrounded by the talent he will be joining in Washington this year.

“I was very excited when I got the news. It was like a dream come true. I’m still young so I’m just trying to have fun and take Washington to places that they never been. It takes a team and I think we have a great team and a great organization to do it. D.C. is rising and we all just got to take it one day at a time and get better and become a unit.”

He’s got the slogan down, so that’s the first part of coming to the Washington Wizards (I guess?). One can only hope with the uncertainty of Randy Wittman’s rotations that he doesn’t find himself in a slump again. But at the very least, the beast shall arise within with his multitude of playoff experience.

The Proof

When I was assigned DeJuan Blair for the player previews, I admittedly had to go and scour the basement of the internet to find a lot of video on him. Admittedly, my knowledge and memory of him ran about as far as seeing him in the playoffs for the past five seasons. (Sorry to every NBA expert who managed to catch every single nationally televised Spurs and Mavericks game over that time period).

One of the things I noticed when looking for game footage is that many of the video descriptions described him as one of the most “underrated” players in the NBA. (And, no, they weren’t all from the same uploader). As I continued to watch….and watch….and watch….I got it. All these post moves and overall ability was ultimately overlooked by me as well, as it’s hard to focus on the play of a guy like Blair when you’ve got Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli running the floor.

So, Dejuan: Welcome to Washington. It’s time to break out of the “underrated” phase and solidify your talent on a team that’s still growing. Just make sure you show me some things like this during this season….

How about what seems like every strong move in the lane over his entire career?

Maybe some of these moves you had back in high school?

And if you can do this against OKC, I’d love to see you rip the Eastern Conference a new one with some more games like these.

The Roundup: Just as with every of the other 37 big men on the bench, it will be interesting to see how Randy handles Blair in the rotation with the number of guysavailable. I actually foresee Blair being a great replacement (if not better?) for Trevor Booker, who was traded to Utah. His size is intimidating in the lane and he has that same type of aggression and confidence. He’s not going to go off every game, but much like Booker, I think we can expect to see a few breakout performances (in regular and postseason games) that may, in return, get him some additional playing time.

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