Player Projection: DeJuan Blair

by Jon Nichols

DeJuan Blair is an interesting prospect.  At times, he can be an unstoppable force despite playing in a very challenging conference.  In a matchup against Hasheem Thabeet, a player eight inches taller than him, Blair dominated.  But he can also be inconsistent and has had run-ins with the referees.  And at 6’7, he’d constantly be forced to match up against players much taller than him in the NBA.

In many ways, Blair is the anti-Thabeet, both physically and the way he projects as a pro.  Thabeet is a giant that is almost certain to be a defensive force but a non-factor on offense.  Scouts probably have gotten a good idea of what to expect from Thabeet in the future.  What about Blair?  He could end up like Elton Brand, an all-pro who contributes on both ends of the floor.  Or he could end up as one of the many undersized college players who didn’t stand a chance in the big leagues. 

What does my Box Score Prediction System (explanation here: think?  Let’s take a look at Blair’s projected box score per 36 minutes:

Those are very solid numbers.  16 points and 11 rebounds from a power forward is certainly adequate.  Blair’s field goal percentage is only slightly below 50%, and his free throw rate and free throw percentage are acceptable.  Despite creating a reasonable amount of offense, he projects to be pretty good at taking care of the ball.  He’ll get a lot of steals for a big man but not too many blocks. 

From the moment I first saw Blair play, I’ve compared him in my mind to Paul Millsap.  Those numbers certainly look Millsap-esque.  How does Millsap do per 36 minutes this season?

Look at those numbers and then at Blair’s.  They are strikingly similar.  Accounting for the standard error associated with any statistical method, Blair projects to have a career like Millsap’s 2008-09 season with respect to field goal attempts, field goal percentage, the lack of three-pointers, free throw attempts, free throw percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, and points.  In addition, the two players are about the same height, although Blair is heavier at the moment.  The only major differences I see are that Millsap blocks more shots but is more foul prone.

The jury is still out on how high Blair will be drafted.   Even though my numbers are just another tool that can be used, if they turn out to be right, Blair should be a high lottery pick for sure.  Paul Millsap is a great player, and if you know you’re getting someone like him in the draft, you should be thrilled. 




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