The San Antonio Spurs’ selection of Missouri guard Marcus Denmon at the end of the second round of last year’s NBA Draft was a bit of a head scratcher, especially considering the abundance of guards the Spurs already had on the roster.
However, with a a late second round pick, the chances of landing on an NBA team, even the one that drafted you, are slim.
Denmon joined last year’s Summer League squad as a bit of an unknown. He was definitely a capable scorer at Missouri, but at his size, he was a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. Denmon did say he had no problems playing at the point and would look to transition.
After a full season playing overseas in France and seeing him through several Summer League games, Denmon seems to have fulfilled on that. While he displayed the type of offense he had become known for with Missouri, he also showed off some passing ability. He picked up five assists in the Spurs’ last game against the Bucks, while also tallying a multidimensional 10 points and eight rebounds.
He had a highlight behind-the-back dish to Dexter Pittman in traffic for a dunk during the Bucks game, and in a 19 point, four assist performance against the Cavs, Denmon found DeShaun Thomas in his spots and intercepted a pass and quickly dumped it off to Aron Baynes for a quick transition layup.
Denmon also showed perhaps one of the most important qualities in a point guard. He never seemed to rush the offense or force the issue. Many young point guards end up over penetrating, not knowing when to give up on a drive and look for better options. While Denmon still sports a swift first step on drives to get to the paint, he also knew when to pull it back when his dribble penetration was stopped. His improved awareness over what I saw last year allowed him to make decisions quickly on where to go with the ball when he was stopped.
Aside from the improved point guard play, Denmon has not lost a step when it came to drilling long-range jumpers. Through the Cavaliers game, he seemed to be adapting the old Nick Van Exel free throw position to his three-pointers, often pulling up from one-to-three feet behind the line. He was able to catch and shoot and can shoot off the dribble rather well, reminiscent of former Spur Roger Mason Jr. Denmon will take a few dribbles, set his feet, square up and launch a three.
While the level of competition during Summer League pales in comparison to the NBA, Denmon seems to have the athleticism to drive and finish, even with contact, or shoot outside. While he didn’t get a lot of playing time until the last few games,in his few minutes early on, he was able to help on both ends of the floor, grabbing defensive rebounds and picking off pass attempts.
How all of this translates to the NBA is still in question. Unfortunately for Denmon, guard is the one position where the Spurs are already deep. His Summer League teammates, Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo will already be fighting for minutes in the rotation.
Denmon is definitely heading in the right direction, but his future with the Spurs is a bit cloudy. He would benefit from some time in the D-League. While he can certainly continue to develop overseas, working within the Spurs’ system where he would likely play big minutes with the Toros while becoming more accustomed to the Spurs offense and defense would be a huge plus.