Another piece of the Wizards' front court puzzle fit into place, as they announced that they acquired DeJuan Blair from the Dallas Mavericks. Blair, who is 24 years old, is a 6'7, 270 pound big man who can play either of the two front court positions. He'll slide right into the second unit, playing alongside quality midrange guys like Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden. Blair has experience both starting (during his time with San Antonio) and coming off the bench, so were Nene or Gortat to get hurt, he would be an option to slide into the starting lineup. During the 2013-14 campaign with Dallas, Blair played in 78 games where he averaged 6.4 points on 53% shooting and 4.7 boards in about 15 minutes per game. He ended the year with a PER of 17.3, third highest on the 2013-14 Mavs and another high efficiency guy for Washington.
Blair grew up in Pittsburgh where he played his high school ball at Schenley High School and was named Pittsburgh City League Player of the year three times. He would stay in Pittsburgh for college, playing for Jamie Dixon at the University of Pittsburgh. His freshman year he made the All-American Freshman team, and his sophomore year he averaged better than a double-double, led Pitt to a number one seed in the tourney and was a consensus First team All-American. Blair turned pro after his sophomore year where the Spurs drafted him 37th overall. Blair spent the first four seasons of his career with the Spurs before moving to the Mavs last year. Over his career, he's averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 boards per game, and has never shot less than 50% from the field in a campaign. He's also gone to the playoffs every year of his NBA career.
Despite being undersized at 6'7, Carlisle used Blair primarily as his first center off the bench during this past season. Blair's known for his toughness in the paint, which makes up for being shorter than a lot of the bigs he goes up against. During the playoffs, it was Blair's physical play that helped change the dynamic of their series against the Spurs, which ended up being the Spurs toughest test on their way to the title. There are those that wonder if Blair wasn't suspended for game 5, if the Mavs wouldn't have gotten that game and the series, considering Blair went for double-doubles in games 4 and 6.
Blair will provide a real physicality in the front court behind Gortat and Nene. He's not going to make much of an impact outside of the paint, as he isn't much of a shooter, but he does just about everything well around the rim including finishing, rebounding and distributing. Little that he does is pretty, but he does a lot of the ugly, scrappy things that help you win ballgames. He's a good yin to the yang of some of the other Wizards backup big option who do a lot of their work outside of the paint. He doesn't have either of his ACL's so he's not a guy who's going to get up and down the court, but his work in the paint makes up for it. With the addition of Blair, the front court depth that the Wizards have built up is impressive as they have a number of different, quality options behind Gortat and Nene.
Welcome to the Wizards, DeJuan!