By: Pardeep Toor
Let me put my bias out there up front: I'm not a fan of Hasheem Thabeet and his pro prospects. Watching him in the tournament, specifically against State, he fell and flopped, was incapable of going up strong and dunking, opting instead for a short one-handed jumper. He's clumsy offensively and fairly slow defensively. At the same time he's 7'3" and you can't coach seven feet. But you can coach to prevent embarrassment.
On Feb 16, Dejuan Blair had 22 points and 23 rebounds on Mr. Thabeet, who countered with just 5 points and 4 rebounds before fouling out. It's only one game but does say something about Blair, who knew he would be measured against Thabeet all year and then in the draft as well. He showed up and produced and even made jokes about about playing Thabeet again. I respect that.
I also like the fact that Blair went for 20 (9-9) points and 10 rebounds in his final game against Villanova in the NCAA tournament. Dude shows up when it counts -- producing four straight double-doubles in the tournament this year.
Sophomore Season: 15.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.5 steals, 59.3 FG%, 60.5 FT%
Of the 12.3 rebounds a game, 5.6 of them were offensive. Ridiculously impressive.
Best Case: Paul Millsap. This has a lot more to do with size than athletic ability. It was hard for me to put Millsap's name here because he plays above the rim and has only had one decent year in limited minutes, without the grind of starting for the majority of the season while logging those minutes. For lack of another good comparison (commenters, any thoughts?), we will assume Millsap's season single season this past year is the best case scenario.
Worst Case: Glen Davis minus the severely silly "Big Baby" nickname. I know Davis was good in the playoffs this year but I'm going to blame that on the offensive deficiencies of Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas and Rashard Lews in the paint. Also, the double teams on Ray Allen and/or Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter didn't hurt. I'm not drinking my Big Baby juice just yet (this comparison is less about weight and more about being unable to dunk ... okay so maybe it's a bit about weight. In my defense, I used to be obese in high school. I have stretch marks ... it's identity politics).
Fit With The Pistons: Pretty good when you consider Joe Dumars' obsession with undersized power forwards. Blair will play with his back to the basket, an area where the Pistons have lacked consistency the last few years. Although strong, his lack of lateral speed and size in the post will hinder his ability to defend faster and bigger fours and fives. Blair was able to overcome his lack of size in college en route to becoming a really good college rebounder - another weakness on the Pistons. But it remains to be seen whether those rebounding numbers can translate against the KGs, D-Hos, Perkins, et. al. of the NBA.
Drafting Blair would also raise questions about the front court rotation. Can Curry consistently afford to play an undersized Blair/Maxiell front court? If the answer is no, then you're seriously limiting your rotation. I don't think Maxiell is or will be that good in the Pistons' half court system so I wouldn't let the presence of Maxiell on the roster hinder the selection of Blair.
If the Pistons are going to select a front court player then I prefer Blair over Psycho T. Blair was a better rebounder in college, more polished post-game and has a stronger, more NBA-ready body. But that's just me.