Given what I heard Chad Ford say today, that DeJuan Blair's "knee problems" are just that he doesn't have ACLs - a "problem" Hines Ward has had since the age of 9 without issue (hat tip to NBA Observer) - he's shot back up to I Love Him At #16 status. Have a look...
Player Comparison Time!
Below are this year's stats for three power forwards, adjusted to 69.8 possessions, which are the number of possessions the Bulls play in 36 minutes. in other words, these are Per36 numbers, pace adjusted for Bulls pace:
Player A: 28.1 points, 17.8 rebs, 2.8 ast, 4.1 tov, 1.4 stl, 1.5 blk, 3.2pf ... 0.660 TS%, 31.7 USG, 20.27 years old
Player B: 24.4 points, 19.1 rebs, 1.9 ast, 1.9 tov, 2.4 stl, 1.5 blk, 4.2pf ... 0.608 TS%, 26.3 USG, 20.17 years old
Player C: 25.9 points, 10.1 rebs, 1.2 ast, 2.3 tov, 1.5 stl, 0.4 blk, 2.8pf ... 0.624 TS%, 26.7 USG, 23.64 years old
Players A and B put up video game / Moses Malone numbers, and Player C is a still-impressive yet distant third. A is the better offensive player - his 0.660 TS% on 31.7 USG is ridiculous, and his 2.8 assists are also impressive, especially considering how often he scores. B though, is no slouch offensively - 0.608 TS% on 26.3 USG is still outstanding, and his 1.9 turnovers is less than half of Player A's 4.1. He was the best rebounder of the group, and defensively his 2.4 steals and 1.5 blocks are a couple notches above.
Player C can score, but he seems to be lacking defensively and on the boards, and he's over 3 years older than Players A and B.
Player A is Blake Griffin, Player B is DeJuan Blair, Player C is Tyler Hansbrough.
Blair was as good as Griffin this year
For all the hoopla Blake Griffin got last year, Blair's numbers were just as good, and he put them up in the nation's toughest conference. And while it's easy to say "Griffin's the much better player", then question is why? Especially when defense and rebounding translate better to the NBA than offensive numbers.
Thankfully, it doesn't matter who's better between Griffin and Blair. Griffin will be taken #1 overall, and Blair will likely fall right behind him at
#2 #5 #7... #16 (!!) It's an incredible steal.
Combine numbers, fit, etc
You know these by now. He's just 6'5", but his standing reach is 8'10.5", which puts him ahead of Griffin's and Hanbrough's 8'9". His 33" vertical is equal to Danny Green's, Marcus Thornton's, and Sam Young's. The guy's a freak. And I'm no medic, but I got the impression from Chad Ford's chat the knee issues are overblown. The issue is arthritis down the line, not higher risk for reinjury, and Hines Ward is an example of it not affecting one's career longterm.
And Blair fits well next to Noah. He anchored Pitt's defense, and has the girth we need to body up some of the league's strongest players. He has that offensive ability too, with post moves using either hand that he used to drop 22 points on Thabeet in a Pitt win this past year.
Terrence Williams looks to be gone to Charlotte at #12. Mullens probably goes to Detroit at #15. Lawson and Jennings seem like good value picks, but they're bad fits and they each have their question marks. Henderson's an option, but he doesn't fit with both Rose and Luol (lacks passing/3pt shooting), and his numbers this year were mediocre. Hansbrough's numbers haven't improved a lick since freshman year, and they were trumped this year by Blair's, especially defensively.
I see the logic in picking a high floor player we can package for a Bosh/Amare impact player, but in Blair we have a chance to draft that impact player now. Seriously. If his knees go, his knees go - it's a risk worth taking with a guy this good.