It'd be unfair to say that DeJuan Blair(notes) is experiencing a sophomore slump; after all, the Pittsburgh product has been a frontline starter and valuable contributor for the San Antonio Spurs, helping Gregg Popovich's squad post the NBA's best record through the season's first 34 games. But the numbers tell us that his per-minute production has been down a tick from his wonderful rookie season.
A look at Basketball-Reference.com shows that Blair's field-goal and True Shooting percentages are way down; that while he's hitting free throws at a much higher clip, he's also making nearly two fewer trips to the line per 36 minutes than last year; and that he's grabbing a lower percentage of available offensive and defensive rebounds than he did a season ago. (He's still doing well on the glass, though — DeJuan ranks 15th in total-rebound rate among players averaging more than 15 minutes per game, according to Hoopdata.com.)
It's not like Blair has struggled mightily — he's posted five double-doubles and has put together some nice stretches, including a three-game December swing in which he averaged 13.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.7 steals in wins over the New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. But he just hasn't seemed quite as beastly as he so often did during his first campaign in black and silver. We haven't seen nearly as much of what Dick Stockton once brilliantly referred to as "DeJuan Bear" as we might like.
During the second quarter of the Spurs' defensive struggle with the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, though, Blair unleashed the beast on Ronny Turiaf(notes). And the Brickers' normally affable center didn't seem too thrilled by it: