In this year’s NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected DeShaun Thomas with the 58th pick. Thomas showed at the Las Vegas Summer League that he has a chance at a spot on the roster next year.
Thomas scored 18 points in his summer league debut and averaged 17 points through the first three games. Though his average dipped to 12.4 at the trip’s conclusion, his overall package is good enough to make the Spurs consider bringing him in now, rather than sending him overseas.
The main thing Thomas has going for him right now is that he can score in all areas, he can come relatively cheaply since he was a second-round pick and the Spurs have an open roster spot available. They could be looking for someone to fill the spot behind Kawhi Leonard, which opened up when the team waived Stephen Jackson near the end of the regular season.
The Spurs could work with him personally to develop his game and/or send him down to the Austin Toros, their D-League affiliate, but sending him to Europe will save them money and a roster spot which can go to a player they feel can better contribute to the team now.
The biggest holes in his game are defense and athleticism. Though he could light it up offensively, he didn’t have a sterling reputation on the other side of the court. It was also noted in the summer league that he would struggle defending quicker players and constantly get beat by his man to the basket, which can be fixed with more conditioning.
The Spurs have a history of sending their draftees to Europe to work on their game and Thomas may see himself facing the same consequence. He’s a pure scorer, but is that enough to hide his weaknesses and convince the Spurs to take him on for the 2013-14 season?
Since the Spurs are in win-now mode with their aging big three, the predictable way for them to handle the roster spot is to find a proven NBA wing who can give Leonard rest for a few minutes each game. That’s no knock on Thomas, though.
With a little more concentration on defense and getting into better shape, Thomas can be another addition to the list of San Antonio’s draft pick steals.