Steve Blake wasn't supposed to be a threat to surpass 1,000 minutes. It was the first season in a decade he failed to hit the mark, but he came far closer than many expected him to.
You can put me at the top of that list. As I wrote in his season preview:
The only way Blake's going to keep that streak of 1,000+ minutes going is 1) hope Dinwiddie fails to win the job in the preseason, then 2) play well enough, like extremely super duper well, to inspire enough confidence in Van Gundy to want to trade Jennings and roll with what's working, then 3) Dinwiddie performs well enough in practice, Grand Rapids, or in spot minutes to inspire enough confidence in the team's depth in the event that Jackson misses any time, then 4) there's an active trade market for Jennings very quickly after his return from injury.
It didn't really make a lot of sense for Blake to make a huge impact on the Pistons this season. The Pistons had two point guards on the roster who were potentially starter-caliber in Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings, even though Jennings would miss a month or two. Spencer Dinwiddie would have the opportunity for a fully healthy summer and needed to be developed for a potential 2016-17 backup job.
Steve Blake was only brought on once Dinwiddie was a flop in the Summer League. Blake went from the Portland Trailblazers to the Brooklyn Nets to the Detroit Pistons within a month. The Nets, who didn't have the best collection of point guards for themselves, dumped him for Quincy Miller's unguaranteed deal.
Surely he wouldn't play a significant role for this Pistons team that hoped to contend for the playoffs, right?
Well, Blake ended the season ninth on the team in minutes played (986).
So how did that happen?
It started with Dinwiddie failing to take advantage of Blake's early season concussion or shooting slump to claim the backup point guard job. The two faced off in one ugly competition and Blake won. By the time Jennings returned from injury, Blake was starting to get the feel for things with a strong December. Then despite a shaky return from injury, Jennings (along with Ersan Ilyasova) was enough to land Tobias Harris, opening the door for Blake to get added minutes.
In all reality, Stan Van Gundy leaned on Blake more than was probably fair of a 35 year old. But still, Blake delivered at least as well as could have been expected. Blake was up-and-down, erratic as a shooter, turnover-prone at times, but he kept the offense moving. And you could always rely that an abysmal, eye-gouging first half would be followed up with a much better second half.
Those bounce-back halves were a nice testament to the grit that Blake brought to the court. Blake came to Detroit with a reputation for toughness and as a player who never backed down from anyone. And he lived up to it.
We should probably mention his awful playoff performance though. Consider it mentioned.
The Pistons can do better than a backup point guard that gives them 51 percent true shooting percentage, a sub-30 percent assist percentage, and nearly 25 percent turnover percentage. But this year, considering their upgrades at other positions, they probably couldn't.
Blake won't be remembered as one of Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower's bargain shopping coups, but he probably should be. It's easy to bash on Blake due to his limitations. And I certainly did my share of that. At the end of the day, though, he's just not really a good player.
But there aren't a ton of teams with backup point guards putting up better than .075 wins produced per 48 minutes like Blake did. Considering that Blake was acquired for essentially nothing in terms of assets and penciled in as the emergency backup options, he worked out pretty well for the Pistons all in all.
Now your thoughts, DBB.