Via: SS&E

Austin Spurs Weekly Update: 3/20/16

With eight games left in the season, the Austin Spurs are attempting to complete a collapse of epic proportions, and succeeding.

The Spurs finished the week 1-4 thanks in part to the deadly combination of inconsistent offensive performances paired with subpar defense.

After defeating the Idaho Stampede last Friday, 96-92, the Austin Spurs have managed to drop four straight games, to fall to 25-18 on the season.

Though the silver and black still lead the Southwest Division, Austin’s lead has dwindled to just 1.5 games for the division title, with the Spurs’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot still standing at three.

Not all is grim for the Austin Spurs though. With Orlando Johnson’s second departure to the NBA, a new, intriguing prospect has emerged in former Spurs second round pick, Deshaun Thomas.

The 24-year-old Thomas is averaging 14.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 41 games for the Austin Spurs this season. But Thomas, who was once the epitome of inconsistency, has achieved new heights with his play since the start of 2016. The former Ohio State Buckeye is averaging 16.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists for Austin since the beginning of the new year, while maintaining shooting splits of .535/.305/.803.

The shooting numbers may not be overly impressive, but it’s a step forward in the right direction if Thomas ever plans on playing regular season NBA minutes. Since being drafted, Thomas worked tirelessly on his inconsistent jump shot and spotty defense while playing professionally in France and Spain. He decided to test out the Spurs draft-and-stash strategy by coming over during the summer, but found himself waived during training camp along with fellow Austin Spurs forward Youssou Ndoye. Thomas may have bet on himself in hopes of making an NBA roster, but his time in Austin isn’t necessarily a gamble he’s lost.

Working with the Spurs’ shooting coaches has helped Thomas tool his jump shot to a 44 percent clip, which, at the NBA level, is on par with Kevin Durant’s 44.6% on jump shots this season. Meanwhile, the addition of Brandon Fields has shifted Thomas toward the power forward spot where he and center Cady Lalanne have grown to be an elite duo at crashing the boards, with the two players combining for nearly a third of the teams rebounds.

The potential Thomas has displayed since the calendar turned over has been phenomenal, but in reality, there’s a long way for Thomas to go before he starts usurping the roles of Jonathon Simmons or Kyle Anderson. If Thomas can continue his strong play through the end of the season and playoffs, it could spell the difference between another season between the Development League or an NBA team with an open roster spot taking a flier on the forward.

Alumnus Watch

Quick update on Orlando Johnson: His 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans is coming to an end, but the injury situation in New Orleans isn’t getting much better. If the Pelicans decline to sign Johnson to a second 10-day contract, he will finish his second stint in the NBA this season by averaging 2.0 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists in almost 11 minutes per game with the Pelicans.

Marjanovic, Simmons assigned to Austin Spurs’ roster Sunday

Sunday morning, the San Antonio Spurs announced both rookies Boban Marjanovic and Jonathon Simmons had been assigned to the Austin Spurs for their game against the Bakersfield Jam. In 26 minutes, Marjanovic scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Simmons added 12 points in 31 minutes, but, it wasn’t enough, as the Spurs fell to the Jam by 30 points. You can read the full recap and check out more Austin Spurs coverage by visiting our network site, Spurs on Sixth.

About John Diaz

John is a University of Houston student studying journalism and a jack of all trades (but master of none) for the Project Spurs Network. His other titles include managing editor of Spurs on Sixth and associate editor of Texas Redzone Report. You may follow him on Twitter @byjohndiaz.