June 2, 2009

Blair Closing In On Lottery

Filed under: Basketball,Draft,NBA,Players — Chas @ 12:05 am

Less than two weeks until the NBA Draft and DeJuan Blair finds himself getting mentioned more and more in the top-14 picks. New Jersey at #11 seems to be the place, since they spoke of needing a “moose.” Of course that goes out the window if they end up getting Carlos Boozer in free agency.

This past week at the Chicago combine, Blair really didn’t surprise in the measurables.

DeJuan Blair measured just 6’5.25 without shoes making him just 6’6 (exactly what we had him listed at all season), but an amazing 7’2 wingspan and a standing reach of 8’10.5 gives him legitimate power forward size. His 1.5 inch standing reach advantage over Griffin almost doesn’t seem possible.

He also showed up in fantastic shape. And his personality is going to be an asset.

Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair has about as much buzz as any player in the draft right now, and he obviously is enjoying showing off his new chiseled physique. “I lost 38 pounds,” he tells us afterwards with a huge grin on his face. He’s relishing the chance to make his presence felt in this setting, no longer asked to lead fast breaks or shoot NBA 3-pointers like he was in the first day.

“I felt much more comfortable out there today,” he explains. “I wanted to dunk the ball hard. Give them something to remember me by.”

Blair particularly shines in the interviews with teams and the media day sessions, showing off his gregarious personality that some go as far as to compare to Shaquille O’Neal. “That’s just me,” Blair tells us with a smile. “I love being around people.”

Once more using the doubts about his decision to go pro as motivation.

It’s a long way from where he was when he first hired agent Happy Walters, when many said he made a mistake by declaring for the NBA draft.

“That’s just something that the people that just wanted to see me back in college again say or thought I wasn’t ready for it. There are a lot of different things people could have went from. I think I’m ready for it; I’m trying to adjust to it and the NBA life. It’s going to be great. Like I’ve said before, if your dreams are in front of you, why not go and reach for them? You never know what could happen. My dream was in front of me so I reached and grabbed it and I’m holding onto it tight. I’m not going anywhere.”

I love it! But I wish he had done that conditioning last year, and come in this year and dominated. Well, okay, he dominated anyway. He was basically one of the five best players in the country. So nevermind. I hope he goes to New Jersey. I like that fit for him. Brook Lopez is a good guy to play next to Blair. He’ll hide some of Blair’s mis-steps on defense.

Comment by maz. 06.02.09 @ 8:15 pm

It’s the same thing that happened with Aaron Gray. The minute they get away from the Pitt program and do some real conditioning, they completely change their physical make-up. I didn’t even recognize Gray in NBA workouts 60 days after he’d started working out for the draft. Completely different body and agility. Now we hear Blair has lost 38 lbs; I’m not sure what this tells you about Pitt’s conditioning program, but it’s not good.

And sure, I realize it’s different when you’re working on your body and game 24/7, but the transformations that these players undergo are amazing to behold. Some of this has to be feasible while they’re still in school.

Comment by hugh green 06.03.09 @ 8:07 am

To be fair, Gray’s body changed (improved) significantly while he was at Pitt. He dropped a ton of weight, and although he was never terribly fleet of foot, he did run the floor much better later in his career. The injury in February of his senior year severely limited his conditioning work for the last 1/3 of that season, and it showed in the NCAA tourney.

My impression is that the Pitt strength and conditioning program is pretty well respected, at least in terms of the “strength” portion. Opposing coaches frequently cite Pitt’s brute strength, particularly late in games. Perhaps the bigger guys should spend a little more time on the “conditioning” end…

Comment by Pantherman13 06.03.09 @ 9:58 am

[…] killed in the workouts. He aced interviews. He was rising on the draftboards. Teams picking in the 8-12 range were bringing him in for one-on-one interviews. Then came the […]

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