It is a new day for everyone in the Spurs now that Tim Duncan is no longer with the team. Duncan pretty much defined the Spurs and replacing him, not only on the field but in the locker room will present quite a few challenges. Online betting will certainly lack some of its flares now that the veteran has departed.
While everyone thought new additions like Paul Gasol and David Lee would compensate for Duncan’s absence, it is Dewayne Dedmon that is stepping up to fill that gap. Signed in the offseason to a 2-year $6 million contract, Dedmon went undrafted out of USC in 2013.
He finally found his way into the Magic, backing up Nikola Vucevic for two and a half seasons but failing to make much of a splash because of the limited playing time he was given. Assistant Coach James Borrego was the one who recommended Dedmon, having coached him during his time in Orlando.
Joining his high school team at the age of 18 and playing basketball for the first time, Dedmon was always a long shot. Banned by his mother from playing organized sports, the prototypically sized NBA center quickly overcame his inexperience, becoming one of the biggest men the Spurs have had in a long time.
Dedmon is proving to be far more effective than any of the Spurs’ main big men were last season, primarily shining because of Duncan’s absence. The Spurs are allowing Dedmon to do what he does best by simplifying the game for him.
Not only is Dedmon exceeding expectations on offense under the guidance of his colleagues, but he is also blocking shots at a career-high rate. His former team never learned to fully utilize his skills while the Spurs’ veterans know just how to deploy his size and athleticism.
Averaging 5.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in just the first few games, Dedmon is already a highly productive rebounder and shot blocker. Not only does he have the best net rating on the team but the Spurs’ defensive rating tends to skyrocket whenever he is on the floor.
Dedmon is currently in three of the team’s six most effective two-man pairings. Of course, Dedmon still has a lot to do to secure the trust of his older colleagues and coaches.
Someone like Gregg Popovich tends to trust older players during important games than rising stars like Dedmon who are not always consistent. None the less, there is no denying Dedmon’s abilities, his power as a rim runner, rebounder and shot blocker giving Popovich so many more options in the playoff series.
Capable of covering Aldridge (or even Gasol) at the rim on defense, Dedmon allows the Spurs to play smaller and faster. When facing a team like the Warriors, it is still unclear whether a player like Dedmon has what it takes to survive.
It has been a long while since the Spurs faced the Warriors, and that was before they became such a powerful team. Dedmon might help the Spurs become a squad that could out-execute opponents like the Warriors in the half court.
Dedmon might also help the Spurs keep up athletically, especially when facing stronger teams. Of course, it would be a stretch to call Dedmon Duncan’s perfect replacement this early.