Over the summer, DeJuan Blair dedicated time to improve his game and physical conditioning. He worked on his mid-range jump-shot and learned some back-to-the-basket moves. His offseason regimen seemed to pay some dividends, playing great basketball during the preseason games, to earn a starting spot in the San Antonio Spurs’ lineup.
However, six games into the young season, Blair has struggled with his starting role.
He is averaging 4.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting just 27% from the field in 23 minutes of action. The glaring setback in Blair’s game is field goal shooting and he seems to be a better fit off the bench.
In 82 game last season, Blair averaged 7.8 points and 6.4 rebounds on 55.6% field goal shooting in just 18.2 minutes per ball game. This means Blair was more effective coming from the bench last year compared to being a starter this season. But it’s still early, for all we know, he might still be finding his way through the starting lineup, and could get out of his early shooting slump in the coming games.
Nonetheless, it’s an interesting point of discussion. The Spurs could benefit more by making some lineup changes. For instance, Antonio McDyess has played well early and appears to be in prime condition despite being 35 years old. In six games this season, McDyess has averaged 7.2 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 48% from the field in 24.5 minutes per game.
McDyess had a double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) against the Houston Rockets last Saturday and then followed it up with 7 points, 5 boards and four blocks performance against a hard-fighting Charlotte Bobcats team.
And then there’s Tiago Splitter, the Brazilian big man who was the center of the Spurs’ offseason revamp. Splitter is slowly catching up with the Spurs’ scheme of things and despite missing the entire preseason due to injury, he has been effective so far in four regular season games for the Spurs with limited time on the floor.
In four games, Splitter is averaging 4.0 points, 2.8 rebounds on 54% field goal shooting in just 11.8 minutes per ball game. He is also aggressive in attacking the basket and is savvy around the rim scoring on put backs. Against the Bobcats, Splitter scored five points, grabbed four rebounds (three offensive) and had one steal in 11 minutes of action.
This only means the Spurs have a lot options on whom to use as their starting center including Tim Duncan.
But here’s the thing, the Spurs are 5-1 and are currently on a four game winning streak with Blair as their starting center, so why fix something if it isn’t broke right?
What do you guys think? Is it time to bring Blair back to the bench? If so, who should be starting?