How Randy Wittman intends on using his deep core of interior options remains uncertain. Granted, the start of training camp is still weeks away, though don't expect many specifics out of the Washington Wizards head coach regardless.
As of Thursday, newly signed center DeJuan Blair had yet to get into details with Wittman about his role. No matter. Blair knows exactly how he will help.
“I plan on just bringing energy and toughness to the team,” Blair said during a teleconference with reporters on Thursday. “And being a veteran guy, helping the young guys do the right thing and just have fun at the same time."
Anybody who watched Blair tangle with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs knows he's not underselling the energy and toughness angle. The 6-foot-7 center had two double-doubles for Dallas, helping the underdog Mavericks take the eventual NBA champions to the full seven games. Blair was also suspended for one game after kicking San Antonio's Tiago Splitter in the head.
For those that remember his All-American turn at the University of Pittsburgh, it's almost hard to believe Blair has been in the league long enough for true veteran status. Indeed, the 25-year-old has played five years in the NBA. In that time, 42 playoff games and a trip to the 2013 NBA Finals with the Spurs.
The Wizards reached the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008 and the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2005. The last trip to the finals came in 1979, nearly 10 years before Blair was born.
“I’m still young so I’m just trying to have fun and take Washington to places that they never been," Blair said. "It takes a team and I think we have a great team and a great organization to do it. D.C. is rising and we all just got to take it one day at a time and get better and become a unit.”
Perhaps the most remarkable part of Blair's five-year NBA career is that he's played five years and counting. Despite his robust success at Pittsburgh, Blair slipped to the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft because of knee concerns. Specifically, due to the lack of ACL's.
“You just got to keep your body in shape and just try to stay healthy and lift around them,” Blair said about his regimen. “Knowing that I don’t have ACLs, I just try to work on my body around my knees just to make it better for a longer career. It’s just about maintaining your body and your weight.”
We'll have to wait a few more weeks to see how Wittman uses the various big bodies off the bench, including Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, Kevin Seraphin and Blair. At least we know there is an energetic and experienced center with no ACL's ready to help Washington push deeper into the playoffs.