We continue our look at potential first round picks, in particular if the Blazers look to move up, with DeJuan Blair from Pittsburgh.
DeJuan Blair 6'7" 265lb projected power forward from the University of Pittsburgh
Why He Might Be the Guy
There's no doubt that the Blazers could use another power forward with Channing Frye likely departing and Travis Outlaw's status seemingly perpetually in flux. (Though to be fair the latter may be more of a fan perception than a team reality.) The $64,000 question is which type of extra power forward you prefer. On the one hand it would be nice to see a contrast between the reserve power forward and LaMarcus Aldridge. LaMarcus is not a banger, not a huge rebounder, and doesn't carry a ton of weight or leverage for his size. Many Blazer fans have dreams of a guy who's built like a brick [Kenny Gee album]house in the old-school power forward mold. On the other hand the whole system assumes a nouveau power forward concept. Since you're not going to change your style of play for a back-up having continuity between all of the forwards, framed in the Outlaw-Frye style, makes sense.
Only fans of the first idea are going to like DeJuan Blair, but they will probably like him plenty. He's heavy, tough, has long arms, plays inside, is the best offensive rebounder in the draft, and he's not shabby on the defensive boards either. The guy just looks like an NBA player...moves, attitude, walk, talk. Unlike many big guys he can catch the ball and put it in softly. DraftExpress has him as a good passer, though I haven't seen enough of him to comment. That would certainly be an asset if it carried through to the NBA level. Sometimes the offense gets clogged up with too many finishers among the bigger position players. One more passer could open up wrinkles we haven't seen yet. He's not a volume scorer but he's an efficient one, which fits the Blazers' current offensive scheme. He's not going to be fast up and down the floor, but that's not a Blazer trait right now either. Basically he's not going to change your team but he's going to bolster it and add some facets to his position that Portland doesn't have yet.
Why He Might Not Be the Guy
He's under 6'7". He plays power forward. With that combination you had better have Charles Barkley skills, especially in today's NBA when power forwards run 6'10" and over, run like the wind, and play the kind of face-up offensive game that negates your weight advantage. Blair isn't Barkley. And he isn't just going to bowl over NBA defenders and find himself open near the hoop without another hand in his face. He's not an explosive leaper, so he'll not be dunking over those help defenders either. That could well make his vaunted efficiency go down. He'll need to pattern his game after the Zach Randolphs of the league and with Portland it's unlikely he'll get enough offensive touches to get that routine down. You'll still probably be able to rely on his offensive rebounds but the Blazers are flush with offensive rebounders. The defensive end is where they need the most rebounding help. That assumes forcing missed shots first and Blair may not be an adequate defender due to height and mobility. Though he's universally described as fierce and motivated he has battled weight issues. That's always a concern in draft picks. As with Ty Lawson, the Blazers would have to move up to get him. The trade exception is always a possibility but unless someone is willing to part with their pick for a cost-free offer, Portland would either be giving up another player or a potential pick in a stronger draft to nab Blair. That could cut into his value.
Your call on DeJuan Blair? What do you love and what are you concerned about? Could he be the guy for the Blazers in the first round?