San Antonio Spurs: Can Drew Eubanks become a rotation player?

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 4: Drew Eubanks #14 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrates with his teammates after a play during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 4, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 4: Drew Eubanks #14 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrates with his teammates after a play during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 4, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Two-way center Drew Eubanks spent his first pro season grinding for the San Antonio Spurs, now he needs to prove himself to secure a role for the team.

Even prior to the implementation of two-way contracts and the expansion of the G League, the San Antonio Spurs have been using the developmental league to train and prepare their prospects for professional competition. It’s never a surprise to see young Spurs head over to Austin to hone their skills along with the expert training and development staff implemented by general manager R.C. Buford and his staff.

One gem that the Spurs picked up from last year’s draft class is Oregon State center Drew Eubanks, who worked his tail off in Austin all year long in an attempt to solidify himself as a legitimate NBA player. So far, his development has been promising with his tenacious rebounding and interior scoring translating directly to the highest level of this sport.

Standing at 6-foot-10 with a stout build, Eubanks has a strong presence on the block because of his willingness to throw his body around in the paint and fight over top of his competition for boards or putbacks. He averaged 16.3 points per game on an exceptional 65 percent shooting from the field while corralling 7.7 boards and an eye-popping 2.5 blocks in roughly 25 minutes per game in the G League last season.

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Living up to his contract, Eubanks has shown the makings of a great two-way player in every sense of the term. He makes his presence felt on the defensive end by protecting the rim with reckless abandon and using his sneaky vertical to rise above his opponents to swat shots. This is a testament to his high basketball IQ as Eubanks utilizes his large hands to his advantage, serving as a defensive mismatch against both power forwards and centers.

Eubanks still has a long way to go before becoming a consistent rotation piece, but he’s well on his way. The 22-year-old possesses the maturity and natural on-court instinct needed to survive in the NBA, now it’s a matter of expanding his arsenal and preparing his body to play 12-20 minutes per game under Gregg Popovich.

Substantial shooting is a necessity considering the current construction of the Spurs’ roster and Eubanks is working diligently to expand his range at the professional level. A recent video surfaced on Twitter of Eubanks in a gym working on his long-ball, an asset that would instantly elevate him from borderline role player to instant impact big man off the bench.

He’s never been known for his jump shot, but Eubanks has a soft touch on his mid-range jumper; a tool that was relied upon much more frequently during his days in Corvallis.

Drew eubanks has being working hard this summer. Adding some range to his game!! @DrewEubanks12 @spurs pic.twitter.com/x4mGUNUEeo

— All IN ONE SPORTS (@ALLINONESPORTS_) June 2, 2019

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If Eubanks can knock down roughly 34 percent of his triples next season, Pop might have no choice but to slot him in as the backup center for his lineup. The Spurs didn’t utilize a backup center when Jakob Poeltl entered the starting lineup, leaving a vacant role in the rotation that’s ripe for the taking.

By providing floor spacing in addition to the aforementioned skills that Eubanks brings to the table, the game can open up for All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to operate within his own high-to-low post offense.  This also enables the team’s abundance of capable guards to utilize more open space on the court for attacking the basket or initiating plays.

Even without a consistent jumper, Eubanks can still become a solid role player in due time. The Spurs haven’t officially re-signed him for next season, but the organization retains his rights and will likely bring him back next season depending on his performance through the Summer League.

Eubanks is a hard worker and has already engrained himself with the culture of this franchise, it’s hard to see him in any other uniform besides the Spurs’ for the foreseeable future.

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With that said, he must make ample progress between his rookie and sophomore seasons in order to force Gregg Popovich’s hand and crack the regular season rotation.

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