Eric Dawson is no stranger to the Vegas Summer League. He’s been here before with the Spurs. Vegas may not have led him to a multi-year contract like it did with former Summer league teammate Gary Neal, but Dawson is giving it everything he’s got to land back where it all started for him, San Antonio.
A Sam Houston High School graduate, Dawson is a D-League veteran who has played all five years of his career with the Austin Toros. Dawson, the 2012 D-League Impact Player of the Year, averaged 17.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in a career year with the Toros last season.
He also got the chance he’d been craving last year when he was called up to his hometown Spurs for two 10-day stints. In his first game with the Spurs, Dawson finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Now on the Spurs’ Summer League squad for his third go-round, Dawson certainly has the Spurs’ attention, and he showed on Sunday that he intends on keeping it.
In 29 minutes, Dawson scored 12 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and swatted away one shot. With the Spurs hardly lacking on the offensive end, with Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph and James Anderson capable of 20+ point nights, Dawson focused on defense and rebounding.
“The more people that need double teams leave me open to be a monster on the glass and that’s my goal this summer is to run the floor, play defense and rebound,” Dawson told our own Trevor Zickgraf after the game.
While there is some stiff competition for only a few training camp invites and possibly one roster spot on this squad, I won’t be the one to count Dawson out. While he may not be the 7-1 center Spurs fans crave, like his Summer League teammate Kawhi Leonard, Dawson just goes to work.
As I said on a recent episode of the Spurscast, Dawson is a blue-collar workhorse with the strength, athleticism and enough size to move bodies around in the post. Aside from their identical height at 6-9, Dawson reminds me a lot of former Spur Antonio McDyess.
Dawson knows what his skillset is and he’ll work hard night in and night out to do what he does best. He’s also very savvy. As Dawson said after Sunday’s game, he’s going to run the floor, play defense and rebound. He’s not going to cal for the ball.
It may sound simple, but what has failed some Spurs big men in the past is trying to do more than the talents they were blessed with. I have no problem with looking to improve in other areas, but as Tim Duncan once told Bruce Bowen, know your personnel.
Above all, Dawson is a perfect fit with the Spurs and is a Pop type of guy. Again, while he may not be the same caliber as some of the free agent bigs the Spurs were hoping to land, I can see him in a backup role. And with reports about the Spurs actively shopping DeJuan Blair, they’ll need some extra help.
Not convinced? Dawson has four more games to change your mind, starting this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. CST against the Los Angeles Lakers team.