The San Antonio Spurs have long been renowned for finding hidden gems late in the NBA draft. They drafted Manu Ginobili 57th overall in 1999, Tony Parker 28th overall in 2001, George Hill 26th overall in 2008, and the list goes on. While it is still quite early, it appears the Spurs may have found another one this year in selecting forward DeShaun Thomas with the 58th overall pick of this year’s draft.
Thomas has played remarkably well for the Spurs in three NBA Summer league games so far; so well, in fact, that the Spurs have been forced to consider him immediately for the team’s final roster spot. Thomas has averaged 17 points per game on 54 percent shooting so far, leading the Spurs’ summer league squad to a 2-1 record. He has shown the ability to score from anywhere on the court: behind the three-point line, from mid-range, and at the rim. His shooting ability helps space the floor effectively and he has a high basketball IQ.
In all honesty most of this should not come as much of a surprise. Thomas was a prolific scorer in college, averaging 19.8 points per game with the Ohio State Buckeyes last season. We all knew Thomas could score. What Thomas’ success in the NBA will depend on is the other things, primarily his defense. At 6-foot-7 he has ideal small forward size, but he lacks ideal foot speed to guard other threes at the NBA level. He is not big enough to guard fours, and at this time isn’t a very good rebounder. Still, Thomas’ versatility on the offensive end and ability to stretch the floor has the Spurs intrigued. The one spot on their roster looking a little thin is small forward, with Kawhi Leonard being the only true small forward currently on the team. Thomas could potentially fill this hole. We will have to wait and see what happens, but I believe Thomas’ ability as a scorer will land him a spot in the NBA sooner rather than later.