- CSNwashington.com - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Around the time DeJuan Blair took notice of the Washington Wizards’ turnaround, the power-packed center rediscovered the fun of playing basketball.

Blair’s fifth NBA season was his first with the Dallas Mavericks after four campaigns with the San Antonio Spurs. Part of the Mavericks’ center rotation during the regular season, the 6-foot-7, 265-pounder eventually took on a larger role against his former team in the opening round of the postseason.

The Mavericks would lose the series in seven games, but no other team would push the eventual NBA champions harder. Blair’s ferocity inside was among the reasons why.

“I think that series was something I needed for my career. The confidence I needed for my career as well,” Blair said Thursday.

The 25-year-old and brand new father spoke via teleconference with local reporters for the first time since being acquired by the Wizards in a trade last month.

Blair averaged 6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and a team-high 2.0 steals against the Spurs. Perhaps the key stat is that the ample production came in only 13.5 minutes per game. With the Mavericks trailing 3-2 in the series, he tallied 10 points, 14 rebounds and four steals in a Game 6 win.

“It was just a lot of fun playing your old team,” Blair continued. “See how good you can be against the best team and I stepped up to the challenge. I did a great job and had fun at the same time. … Basketball became fun again.”

Many anticipate a fun season upcoming for the Wizards as the team looks to build on the momentum following a 45-37 regular season and playoff run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Armed with the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington re-signed center Marcin Gortat, then overhauled its frontcourt rotation and depth by adding Blair, power forward Kris Humphries and future Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce.

“I was very excited when I got the news. It was like a dream come true,” Blair said about his trade to Washington. “Last year, I saw what kind of team they had. … The youth, the big men coming up. The ingredients around the team. I think I’ll be a great addition.”

The energetic, wide-bodied and undersized center averages 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 52.9 percent from the field for his career. Much was made about the postseason experience Wall and Beal received last season. Blair has never missed the playoffs during his five seasons.

He did miss having fun at times last season with the Mavericks (in addition to Game 5 against San Antonio after kicking Spurs center Tiago Splitter in the head). Asked to elaborate on that “fun” point, Blair referenced rotational uncertainty.

“There were just a lot of things I wasn’t into at the time. When I got to the playoffs — I don’t know. I think at the end of the season, that’s when it started being a lot better. We actually knew what was going on, knew the rotation. … We all bonded as a team, we came together. There were parts of the season I didn’t think we had that. It helped a lot at the end.”

It will be curious to see how coach Randy Wittman deploys all his available frontcourt options this season. Blair said he would soon head to the D.C. area to speak with the coach and check out homes following the birth of his daughter on Aug. 8.

“Best thing that happened to me,” the proud papa said.

Between his baby girl and confidence boost, sounds like this could be a rather fun and meaningful year for Blair — and not just when he plays his former teams.

“This whole season I’ve got circled,” he said.

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