DeShaun Thomas was drafted with the 58th overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA draft. Most players drafted that late never even make the roster, but Thomas was different from the start. He was a prolific scorer in college, averaging 19.8 PPG last season.
This directly translated to Thomas’ Summer League performance, particularly in the first few games. He was so impressive in these first few games that it led many, including myself, to considering the Spurs signing him outright this season as a real possibility.
Well, Thomas came back to earth over the final few Summer League games, and talk of that died down. Instead of joining the Spurs, DeShaun Thomas will be playing overseas in France this upcoming season.
In reality, this is what is best for both parties. Thomas has the opportunity to be a key contributor for his club in France and earn valuable minutes. If he had been signed by the Spurs, he would instead be spending the vast majority of time on the bench or with the Spurs’ D-League affiliate. Thomas still has some developing to do as a player, so he will benefit from the additional opportunity immensely.
This also makes sense for the Spurs. They preserve their roster flexibility by keeping their 15th roster spot open (the one Thomas would have occupied). They still have Thomas’ player rights; they just do not need to pay him a salary while he develops. The Spurs have a very good track record for players who have spent some times overseas before coming to the league (Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter), and Thomas seems likely to someday join this list.
So we won’t be seeing DeShaun Thomas in the NBA this season, but given the Spurs’ reputation for developing players overseas, don’t be surprised if he is making an impact in the NBA in the near future.