Five games into the regular season, including only one loss, the Spurs cadre of big men continues to adjust to their roles in the frontcourt. Lone holdover LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging almost 19 points and 7 rebounds per contest, and despite looking out of sync at times, newcomer Pau Gasol recently broke through with a 20-point night in Miami.
Former All-Star David Lee has been a pleasant surprise off the bench, contributing 7 points and almost 6 boards per game, while Dewayne Dedmon has shown flashes of the potential that earned him a $6 million contract with the Spurs this summer. In just the second game of the season, Dedmon showed out for his California contingent, notching 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks to help secure a victory in Sacramento.
“He's exactly what we thought we were getting when we signed him,” said Gregg Popovich, following a preseason win against Orlando where Dedmon pulled down 7 boards. “He runs the floor. He's a really good teammate. He understands his role as far as rebounding and rolling and playing. He's not going to be the scorer like LaMarcus Aldridge is. But he accepts his role and understands how to be a good teammate and make a team better — kind of Bruce Bowen-like.”
Growing up in California, where he was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness household, Dedmon didn’t play organized basketball until his senior year at Lancaster High School. After walking on at Antelope Valley College, he was offered a scholarship to USC where his game continued to develop. Dedmon went undrafted in 2013, with stops in Oakland and Philadelphia before cracking the rotation in Orlando, where he left an impression on Spurs assistant James Borrego.
Spurs faithful have endured a steady line of serviceable yet gravitationally challenged centers since David Robinson retired in 2003. Rasho Nestovic, Nazr Mohammed, Francisco Elson, and Tiago Splitter all have championship rings though, which they likely regard as the spoils of flanking Tim Duncan.
Standing 7 feet tall with enviable hops, Dedmon represents a welcome change in the paint for the Spurs. While early returns suggest R.C. Buford has found yet another diamond in the rough, the season is still young, giving Dedmon plenty of time to work on handling passes in traffic and finishing at the rim. He currently leads the Spurs in blocks and, if given the minutes, is on track for a breakout season in San Antonio.