LAS VEGAS — We know you know because you've been talking about it, but the San Antonio Spurs are short a small forward. Technically, Danny Green can and has played the position. Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal have both filled in when the Spurs go extra small. Still, many fans would like to see another play who's natural position is small forward.
Enter Deshaun Thomas.
Thomas, the 58th pick in this June's draft is not a natural small forward. He spent much of his time at Ohio State playing power forward. However, at 6'7" he has the size to be your tradition back up wing and he also has a more perimeter oriented game. Thomas was a big part of the Summer League Spurs' 69-68 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, scoring 18 points on 7-13 shooting. His game showed the polish you don't normally see from a rookie. While he started the game at power forward, Summer League coach Ime Udoka said we can expect to see Thomas at both forward spots.
"He can take it outside, move it well, has great IQ, can get the tough shot," Udoka said. "We want to see him at times guarding the three, chasing guys around the perimeter, but we have no problem playing him at the small ball 4.”
Thomas said one of his first thoughts when the Spurs drafted him was that they were short a small forward and immediately began working on being able to play both forward spots on both sides of the ball.
"I know what you gotta do. You gotta come out and play hard and play with great energy to play the three," Thomas said. "I played under a great coach hat preached defense a lot and that’s Coach (Thad) Motta and you know I know the Spurs preach defense. Anytime in the huddle it’s ‘1-2-3 defense’ so I know it’s important.”
Udoka added that he thought Thomas had the ability to guard the wing position at the NBA level, he just needs more time to work on it. If he can figure out, that's one more weapon the Spurs can add to their arsenal.