He stands 6’7 and weighs 270 lbs. He is what most scouts would call a “risk” given his below average height (for an NBA “Big Man”) and his heavy stature. There were also questions surrounding his durability due to his past knee surgeries. Stat sheets and scouting reports would show the numbers at Pitt, but it was not enough to warrant a first round selection. So Dejuan Blair found himself waiting patiently in the second round. This was most likely an inspiration source for the rookie Blair as he was named to the 2nd team All-Rookie team in 2010.
Fast forward to the 2012-2013 NBA season. Spurs added Boris Diaw and had a young up-and-comer in Tiago Splitter and Blair saw his minutes reduced in San Antonio. Regardless of all the hard work he had put in for Coach Popovich, it wasn’t enough to earn him a more significant team role. Local controversy started up due to the lack of Blair’s minutes in the NBA Finals, and the Spurs lost the series to the Miami Heat (By the way, why’s it so hard for these teams to beat the Heat in the finals? Only took us 6 games. Just kidding. But really…..). Was this a personal “thing” for Gregg Popovich? Did he dislike Dejuan Blair for some reason? Were there trust issues? We’ll never know. What we do know is that the Dallas Mavericks have picked through the Spurs trash and found a gem.
The Mavericks, to my recollection, have NEVER had a player like Dejuan Blair. There’s no question that the Mavs have had a reputation for years of being “soft.” A finesse team that shoots outside jumpers, plays little hard-nosed defense, and doesn’t rebound efficiently. Blair is the opposite of those things. He’s come in to play quality minutes for the Mavs at center with the injury to Brandan Wright leaving a hole in the roster. What Blair has done is make the most of it. He’s grabbing spectacular rebounds with one hand when it appears as if there’s no chance of a board. He’s chasing after loose balls with reckless abandon as he did in the most recent game against Charlotte. In crunch time, Blair stepped in front of poor Kemba Walker and knocked him into the first row while grabbing a huge rebound to ice the game. These are the types of plays that the Mavs have missed out on many times in the past. Blair currently leads the team in rebounds, 7.8 per game. He’s grabbing more rebounds than the Mavs’ previous rebound king, Shawn Marion, and also out-rebounding our center, Sam Dalembert, who we specifically brought here to rebound the basketball (smh). Blair also leads the team in………Steals?! What?! He’s averaging more steals per game than Monta Ellis who has always been one of the NBA’s best steal threats. Blair loves playing defense, grabbing boards, and chasing the basketball. Oh yeah, he’s also averaging a career high in points, 8.5 per game.
Some players in professional sports will sign with rival teams for the money. They could care less about the fact that a fans heart breaks when they join a rival team. Jacoby Ellsbury just won a World Series title with the Red Sox and chased the dollar bills south to New York without ever looking back. Loyalty is apparently a myth amongst the fan bases and the players (most of them anyways) constantly remind us that it’s just a business; no matter how much we want to believe that it isn’t.
On the contrary, some lesser-known players will join the rival team to rub it in the face of the team that just let them walk. They specifically choose a team where he can showcase his forgotten talent and make sure that his old team will see it first hand at least 4 times a year. That’s Dejuan Blair. He’s got one key attribute that can’t be measured in any spreadsheet or saber metric breakdown; he has a ton of heart. And we couldn’t be happier to have him in Dallas.
(Photo by Sarah Hoffman/Staff Photographer For Dallas News)
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