Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives against San Antonio Spurs forward Drew Eubanks (14) during an NBA basketball game at Visa Athletic Center. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
After a bit of a breakout in the Orlando bubble, these are three ways for San Antonio Spurs free-agent big man Drew Eubank to maximize his offseason.
Two years went by in a flash as two-way center Drew Eubanks has reached the end of the line with that type of deal. By this point, his role with the San Antonio Spurs has been solidified and the front office needs to begin negotiating for his first full-fledged NBA deal. No one knows what the offseason holds, but it’d be surprising if Eubanks didn’t return to the San Antonio Spurs.
During an Orlando restart in which the San Antonio Spurs prioritized its youth, Eubanks was a pivotal member of the team’s rotation. The 23-year-old center played backup to starter Jakob Poeltl, bringing energy and athleticism that the team sorely needed. Though at times, his decision-making was questionable and he got beat by veteran opponents, Eubanks showed enough to know that he belongs in this league.
Now a free agent looking for his next opportunity, Eubanks has been present and working out with other young Spurs like Keldon Johnson and Chimezie Metu. All signs point toward him returning to the team. While his agents handle the financial aspect and securing him a spot on the roster, Eubanks can focus his attention elsewhere.
A physically imposing player with underrated leaping ability, Eubanks knows how to use his body and unsuspecting verticality to combat other players near the rim. He doesn’t foul as often as many players in his position would, which is a big reason why head coach Gregg Popovich trusts him so much.
These are three steps to maximizing the 2020 offseason for a player looking to establish himself.
Next: 1. Get That Money
1. Securing a contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
Okay, maybe the whole contract part was a bit overstated. Before committing any more of his time to the San Antonio Spurs, Eubanks needs to ensure that he’ll remain with the franchise heading into the future. Since he played on a two-way contract in back-to-back seasons, Eubanks is no longer eligible for that kind of deal.
Instead, the San Antonio Spurs need to sign him to a legitimate NBA deal that ensures him a full-time spot on the team’s bench. Over the course of the last two years, Eubanks has established himself as a reliable contributor who understands San Antonio‘s game plan.
Earning the trust of head coach Gregg Popovich is no easy task — ask Chimezie Metu. The fact that Eubanks cracked the rotation this year is telling of the team’s trust in their young center.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship. San Antonio saw something special in Eubanks when they took him in as an undrafted free agent and helped groom him for the NBA. Likewise, Eubanks worked his tail off and assimilated to the Spurs’ culture. Unless Eubanks‘ representation asks for a heinous contract, I don’t see why the two parties couldn’t get a deal done.
Next: 2. Work on the Jumper
2. Become a floor-spacer for the San Antonio Spurs.
Dating back to his days at Oregon State University, Eubanks had a proficiency for shooting long jumpers. Still, he was more comfortable taking them in Austin then he was with the Spurs themselves. His shooting stroke looks clean, now it’s a matter of finding his confidence in the professional ranks.
This offseason, it would be beneficial for Eubanks to continue working on his jump shot. If Eubanks can hit 3-pointers reliably for the San Antonio Spurs, he can transform their offense. To have a backup center behind Poeltl who can stretch the floor gives San Antonio a competitive advantage.
In the modern game, spacing the floor is truly essential to a functional offense. This is all the more important when your team is designed to drive to the basket and kick out to shooters on the perimeter. We all know that Eubanks is in explosive athlete near the rim, but having him shoot threes add a decent clip would be tremendous. Primarily, the San Antonio Spurs want Eubanks to play near the paint.
However, this would be a useful tool to help this team progress into the modern era.
Next: 3. Keep in shape
3. Condition for a full-time workload.
Compared with most other players of his size and position, Eubanks is a strong athlete. When you look at the Spurs‘ frontcourt, there aren’t very many great athletes. This is part of the reason why they need Eubanks to be ready and conditioned for the moment his name is called.
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When opposing teams deploy a small-ball lineup, Eubanks will make for a great counter. Not only does he hustle down the court and make plays in transition, but he alters opponent’s shots at every opportunity. To sustain this level of intensity at a higher rate, Eubanks needs to be in peak physical condition.
The goal is to have Eubanks in a consistent role in his third season with the organization. We cannot be sure of what the San Antonio Spurs roster looks like in 2021 — Especially when considering the strange conditions of the offseason. The most this team and it’s players can do is hope for the best and keep ready for a return to action. When the increased workload comes, Eubanks needs to be ready to step into that role. He proved that he could do it during the Orlando restart. Now he has to show it over the course of a full season.
Editor’s Note: While I was writing this piece, it was announced that Eubanks is working with a fundraising campaign called “Heart for Oregon,” which is raising funds to support the Oregon Food Bank. A native of Troutdale, Oregon, Eubanks is using his platform and reach to aid those impacted by the Oregon wildfires.
As part of the campaign, T-shirts are being sold with 100% of profits going to the Oregon food bank. If you are in a position to help, follow this link to contribute and help those in need.