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Could New York Knicks Target Free Agent DeJuan Blair?

June 25th, 2013 at 8:00 AM
By Matt Agne

DeJuan Blair is a solid basketball player. He played very well in college but slipped into the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft because of injury concerns. The San Antonio Spurs looked like absolute geniuses when they drafted him. Blair emerged as one of the top players in his draft class but was unable to sustain that production. His numbers declined, and as a result, he lost his spot in the Spurs rotation during the 2012-13 regular season. However, he had flashes during the post-season run when Gregg Popovich turned to him. Could the New York Knicks benefit from Blair falling out of favor with the Spurs and get another solid frontcourt player?

'2011 Spurs Schedule - March (DeJuan Blair)' photo (c) 2011, Mike - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Who would have ever thought a 6'7", 277 pound big man who was supposed to be a lottery pick would fall all the way to the 37th pick? As it turned out, the long-term viability of his surgically repaired knees was cause for enough concern for every team to pass on DeJuan Blair once and some twice. However, the Spurs were smart enough to pounced on Blair and his health hasn't been a problem.

Blair fell in the 2009 NBA Draft because he no longer has an ACL in either knee. That's a bad thing because obviously he doesn't have ligaments in his knees. However, it can also be a good thing because that means he can't tear his ACL either. There will be no Iman Shumpert injury with Blair.

Blair is a tough guy. He can bang down low and right for rebounds. That's a major need for the Knicks. Over his four year NBA career, Blair has averaged 11.1 rebounds per 36-minutes played. Last season there were only four teams that averaged fewer rebounds a game than the Knicks. Blair can help them turn that around.

Blair can play both sides of the court, has an impressive physique and a boat load of intangibles in his game that coaches In college Blair was a very efficient offensive player. He also thrived on the offensive glass.

At Pittsburgh, Blair was the offensive focal point and got most of his points posting up. With San Antonio he had virtually no plays called for him and became a jump shooter. However, the thrived as an offensive rebounder and someone who played off the ball an cut towards the basket.

He showed he was willing to do the dirty work and proved he could be a nice complementary piece to the go-to scorers on Popovich's squad. He immediately embraced his role and started creating extra possessions with rebounds, setting hard screens and becoming an easy target around the rim.

Blair is incredibly strong and has a massive frame that he uses to carve out space in the paint and create high-quality shots. He also has a low center of gravity so he doesn't get pushed around very often. In the paint, he's able to establish position and back his man down.

'San Antonio Spurs' photo (c) 2009, Mike - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Considering his size, he's also agile and has nice body control while driving to the rim. Blair is also well versed in cutting to the rim from the high post as well as rolling to the basket off screens. He overcomes his lack of a vertical by using a number of maneuvers to free himself of his defender.

He doesn't shy from contact but he also doesn't get to the free-throw line very often. In fact, his lack of a vertical makes him prone to getting his shot blocked. However, learning at the feet of Tim Duncan has afforded Blair the opportunity to learn mid-range finesse moves such as floaters, runners and bank shots.

Blair struggles with his mid-range jumper which is the only reason the Knicks can afford him. However, he's a perfect guy to surround with perimeter shooters which is something the Knicks have up and down the roster.

Like he was in college, Blair is still a good rebounder. He's not as dominant as he was in Pittsburgh but he still rebounds at a high rate in the pros. On a team like the Knicks where they take a lot of threes and have players who attack from all over the perimeter he could help fix a major flaw.

On defense, Blair is a high effort player who is always locked in and focused. Unfortunately his height allows him to be shot over, his lack of lateral speed hurts his ability to stop the pick and roll and defend players driving around him and he tends to over extend himself in an attempt to get his hand on the entry pass. However, he has a knack for stealing the ball once he's in position he can stay with his man and use his length (7'2" wingspan) to contest shots.

Overall, Blair is a hard-working big man with a high work ethic. So far he's had a productive career and there's no reason to believe he won't continue with that level of play. However, with him seeming to fall out of favor in San Antonio he'll likely be looking for a change of scenery to showcase his unique skill set. Why not bring him to New York where he could immediately join the rotation and thrive in a system where he can remain active cutting to the rim, rebounding and get support in Mike Woodson's help-heavy defense?

Tags: Basketball, Dejuan Blair, NBA, New York, New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs

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