Austin Developments: D-League Spurs Update

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With two weeks of the NBA Development League season completed, it’s time to check in and see how the Austin Spurs are faring on their quest for a second D-League championship.

After being defeated last Friday, the Spurs find themselves at 4-2 to start the season, and have a week off before facing a stretch of seven games in 16 days, including three back-to-back’s, starting tonight.

In this update, we take a look inside the numbers for Austin and check in on who could potentially find their way to San Antonio or onto another NBA roster in the future.

RECENT RESULTS:

AUSTIN SPURS: 119, Grand Rapids Drive: 106.
Austin Spurs: 82, SIOUX FALLS SKYFORCE: 1O5.
Erie Bayhawks: 106, AUSTIN SPURS: 109.
Reno Bighorns: 97, AUSTIN SPURS: 106.
Reno Bighorns: 92, AUSTIN SPURS: 115.

BY THE NUMBERS:
Points Per Game: 104.3 (13th)
Rebounds Per Game: 42.0 (17th)
Assists Per Game: 19.0 (14th)
Turnovers Per Game: 19.5 (21st)
Field Goal Percentage: .482 (5th)
3-Point Percentage: .355 (8th)
Net Rating: -1.1 (13th)
Pace: 98.60 (20th)

What sticks out the most is obviously the fact that the Spurs are practically dead last in pace and turnovers. Austin notoriously plays at one of the slowest paces in the D-League, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as Austin Spurs Head Coach Ken McDonald runs a nearly identical offense as San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio’s pace is 95.11, good enough for 28th).

And one of the main reasons Austin is so efficient offensively is because, just like San Antonio, the D-League Spurs are mid-range assassins.

AustinSpursShotChartDec1

Without a true center on the roster, Austin relies on forwards Livio Jean-Charles and Cheick Diallo (on assignment from the New Orleans Pelicans) to do a majority of their work off pick-and-pop and pinch-post work. Both Jean-Charles and Diallo get more than one-third of their points out of the mid-range game.

In regards to turnovers, it should be noted that this Spurs team is unlike the juggernaut rosters of the past. Austin only returned two players from the 2015-16 roster, Demetri McCamey and Jarell Eddie. And Eddie only played in 11 games for Austin last season, before being called up by the Washington Wizards.

The kinks are also still being worked out among the point guard rotation, with Ryan Arcidiacono and Dejounte Murray leading the team in Turnover Ratio at 21.3 and 21.4 turnovers per 100 possessions, respectively. The turnover trend should continue throughout the season with the amount of rotating bodies finding their way to Austin via San Antonio or other NBA clubs, but there are signs of encouragement. The Austin Spurs committed a league-low eight turnovers last Friday in their 119-106 victory over the Grand Rapids Drive.

PROSPECT WATCH

  • Jarell Eddie: The NBA veteran is playing a slightly reduced role with Austin this season, compared to his previous two seasons in the Development League. Originally Eddie found himself coming off the bench behind Patricio Garino, but saw his statistics and shooting percentages plummet as a member of the bench mob. Now as a starter, Eddie is averaging 18.3 points per game and shooting a healthy 34 percent from beyond the arc. A prototypical 3-and-D guy, Eddie just needs an organization willing to give him the minutes to produce. If he can keep his offense trending upwards, Eddie could be called up as soon as next week. Eddie is ranked 17th overall by the Development League’s Prospect Watch, and is only one of two ranked Spurs prospects.
  • Livio Jean-Charles: A surprise cut out of training camp, Jean-Charles seems to be taking his trip to the Development League in stride. He’s not the most apt player on offense, but LJC has managed to carve out his niche as Austin’s center. The 23-year-old forward is averaging 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game with two double-doubles under his belt already. With the lack of size in the D-League, center has become the perfect position for his success. But Jean-Charles would need to bulk up a considerable amount before he finds himself in a similar role in the NBA. His lack of athleticism and consistency on offense should keep him in the Development League for the foreseeable future.
  • Cory Jefferson: For those not familiar with Jefferson, the 6-foot-9 forward from Killeen spent four years at Baylor, before being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 60th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His tenure in silver and black didn’t last long, as San Antonio shipped Jefferson’s rights along with Jordan McRae to the 76ers in exchange for the rights to Nemanja Dangubić. Now back in the Spurs family after stints in Brooklyn and Phoenix, Jefferson is making a strong impression off the bench for Austin. The 23-year-old forward is averaging 12.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, while 54 percent from the field. Though a respectable defender in the post, Jefferson still has a ways to go as a rim protector. But on offense, Jefferson excels at using his athleticism to gain an advantage on defenders, giving him the ability to score from practically anywhere inside the arc. Jefferson is ranked 14th overall by the Development League’s Prospect Watch and the highest ranked Austin Spurs prospect.

UP NEXT

You can watch the Austin Spurs take on one of the D-League’s newest franchises, the Greensboro Swarm, live from the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park tonight. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. CST with the game being broadcast simultaneously on Facebook Live.

For more Austin Spurs coverage, visit our network site, Spurs on Sixth.

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