SLAMonline Mock Draft: DeJuan Blair, No. 11
The Pitt native isn’t moving far.
With the 11th pick in the 2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the New Jersey Nets select…
DeJuan Blair. Let me stop you right now: I know Blair measured just short of 6-6 in bare feet. I know James Johnson and Earl Clark are here for the taking, and that both are power forward/small forward tweeners with athleticism Blair will never have. I know the Nets could use some backcourt scoring depth, especially if they can convince a contender to take Vince Carter’s insane contract off their hands.
But I’ll be damned if I’m reaching here for a Dukie shooting guard who can’t shoot three-pointers and wasn’t a very efficient offensive player in college—even if Gerald Henderson is almost as tall as Blair.
At its core, this pick is about rebounding. Dudes who can rebound in college can usually rebound in the pros, even if they are not off-the-charts athletic. Kevin Love stepped in and became the best per-minute rebounder in the League, and though he’s listed as four inches taller than Blair, DeJuan’s monster 7-2 wingspan will help make up for his height. He’s got a longer standing reach than Blake Griffin.
And Blair rebounded like a madman in college, pulling down 12.3 per last season, fourth best in college hoops. Nearly half those boards (5.6) were offensive rebounds, and the Nets were the 22nd best (or ninth worst, if you like) offensive rebounding team in the NBA last season. They were strictly average on the defensive glass.
He has great instincts, he’s surprisingly quick off the ground, he’s a slightly better jumper than people give him credit for, and, really, he just knows how to rebound the basketball. He’s also got an epic space-creating ass. His ass is so impactful the freaking New York Times, usually afraid to address any sort of PG-13 topic, wrote an entire story about it (even throwing in a classic NYT wannabe-hip reference to Sir-Mix-A-Lot).
Blair used his ass to score on the interior in college, including owning the likely No. 2 pick, Hasheem Thabeet, whenever Pittsburgh played UConn. He put up the best points-per-possession of every forward DraftExpress tracked. He’s obviously not going to be able to step in and do that in the NBA, and he won’t have to on the Nets, not with Devin Harris and Vince Carter jacking 20 shots each per game. He’s going to have to get rebounds and set nasty screens, and he’ll be able to do that from Day One.
This will give him time to do the one thing he’s absolutely going to have to do to eventually justify this pick: Develop a jumper. He took just 0.2 jumpers per game in college, according to DraftExpress. Blair is saying all the right things about taking hundreds of jumpers a day and changing his diet and work habits to keep off the 40 or so pounds he’s dropped since starting his work with David Thorpe in Florida. Of course, players with millions of dollars at stake are going to say all the right things. But you don’t average 15-12 in the Big East as a 6-6 power forward without being a worker. We at the Nets believe Blair is a worker, and we’ve got as sorry a crop of forwards as there is in the NBA.
Glen Davis, a player to whom Blair is often compared, developed a jump shot where none existed before, and he’s about to make himself about $3 or $4 million a season. (By the way, Blair is a much better rebounder than Big Baby).
Blair’s ceiling is probably a 15-9 player in the NBA. Clark and Johnson may have higher ceilings, but they don’t come to the NBA with one ready-made knockout skill. Clark was inefficient on offense and turned the ball over a ton, and Johnson, though he improved his all-around game, is 22 and a bit raw.
The one thing that made us really think: Johnson, with his size (6-8) and athleticism, could become an elite defender, something Blair is never likely to be. But lots of guys with elite tools never learn how to guard properly in the NBA. So in the end, we chose Blair. Rod Thorn wants a “moose.” Who are we to argue?
|2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft Results|
|1||L.A. Clippers||Blake Griffin|
|2||Memphis Grizzlies||Hasheem Thabeet|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||Ricky Rubio|
|4||Sacramento Kings||Brandon Jennings|
|5||Washington Wizards||Jordan Hill|
|6||Minnesota Timberwolves||Demar DeRozan|
|7||Golden State Warriors||James Harden|
|8||New York Knicks||Stephen Curry|
|9||Toronto Raptors||Tyreke Evans|
|10||Milwaukee Bucks||Jonny Flynn|
|11||New Jersey Nets||DeJuan Blair|