An Ode to Othyus, Jeffers tabbed as the latest 10-day contract


Throughout the season, as the San Antonio Spurs have shuffled from one 10-day contract player to the next. Head Coach Gregg Popovich continues to feign ignorance on the hopefuls his team is trying out.

Popovich often jokes in the pregame media sessions, upon the debut of each 13th man to walk through the halls of the AT&T Center, that he barely has time to learn each player’s name, let alone what they might bring to the team in the short time they are here. There probably is a lot of truth in that.

And yet, here comes Othyus Jeffers.

All indications are the Spurs will sign the 6’5″ converted wing to a 10-day contract following the departure of Steve Novak (ending the wondrous possibility—for now—that was a Bonner-Novak frontcourt). In all likelihood, Popovich actually probably knows little and will learn little about Jeffers over the course of this contract, but that Jeffers took an unusual path to the NBA means he probably already fits right in.

You see, while there are far too many hard-luck-overcoming-adversity stories around the NBA for the Spurs to monopolize the market, they have a pretty significant share of those that come through early setbacks with newfound maturity and poise. Pop likes to refer to them as players that have gotten over themselves, and it is one of the things that define this Spurs culture.

By all accounts, and we will delve into these in a bit, Jeffers is merely one of many physically gifted, but basketball-deficient, wings scattered across the NBA Developmental League. But of all the arenas, in all the outposts of the world, the Spurs walked into Iowa—and came back with a player who has a bit of a story.

A year ago Othyus Jeffers was a member of the Utah Jazz, and the Deseret News chronicled his unusual arrival to the NBA:

Adversity, however, is something Jeffers has battled and become familiar with during his life, though you’d never know by his demeanor.

“I’m always smiling,” he said.

Not an easy thing to do considering his past.

Years ago, two of Jeffers’ older brothers were shot and killed not far from his family’s apartment in Chicago’s rough West Side. He was also shot in the leg while trying to protect his sister during a fight with her boyfriend.

But what defines Jeffers is not these moments, but like many Spurs role players before him, what he has taken from these moments, to let the Deseret News continue:

Jeffers credits his mom and his college studies in psychology for helping him overcome his tough background, focus his emotions and make positive things happen in his life, with this call-up to the NBA being the ultimate highlight.

“You learn how to dissect the mind pretty much,” said Jeffers, who finished his college career as Sporting News’ NAIA player of the year at Robert Morris University after stints at Illinois-Chicago and Los Angeles Southwest College.

“Basketball is different from your outside life, so that’s a whole ‘nother part,” he said. “So, I just try to channel to the right parts and, you know, I’m doing OK. I’m fine.”

Jeffers tenure with the Spurs will probably be limited, with Popovich stating that anyone he brings in is not likely to take minutes from the people he has been playing all season. But that’s not to say this can’t serve as an audition for the Summer League, Austin, or even next year’s training camp (assuming any of these exist for next season).

An excerpt from Draft Express on what Jeffers brings to the table:

Jeffers’ biggest strength (besides his athleticism) clearly lies in his defense. He is incredibly tough and can absolutely smother opponents on the perimeter with his terrific combination of strength and length, taking great pride on this end of the floor. He gets in the passing lanes at an excellent rate, and is lightning quick getting out in transition. This activity level certainly translates to his work on the glass, where he is arguably the best rebounding wing player in the D-League, at nearly 10-boards per-40. He is especially impressive on the offensive glass, which is one of the main reasons he is so efficient from the field.

Of course, for such a desired skill set to be floating around the D-League, there would have to be some obvious flaws to his game:

The part of his game that needs to improve the most is clearly his jump-shot. He’s currently not a threat at all to make shots from the perimeter, showing inconsistent shooting mechanics, with a release point way above his head, and very streaky range outside of 15 feet, both with his feet set and especially off the dribble. To really take his game to the next level, Jeffers must become at least a decent perimeter shooter, as he won’t be able to get to the rim in the NBA or high-level Europe nearly as effectively as he does in the D-League.

This flaw probably negates any impact or hopes Jeffers might have for this season, but as we’ve seen in the past, the Spurs are pretty meticulous in who they allow into their locker room. And while Popovich might not know much about Jeffers, he knows enough to have him here, for the next 10 days at least.

  • irongiantkc

    @soulidify: “josh howard? dope smoking non pledge of allegiance saying josh howard? if the spurs went there maybe i would become a mavs fan.

    note: i would not become a mavs fan.”

    + a zillion for making me laugh out loud..and even snort a little

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    “Popovich might not know much about Jeffers, he knows enough to have him here, for the next 10 days at least”


  • Joseph

    Your dream is not over yet.

    “ending the wondrous possibility—for now—that was a Bonner-Novak frontcourt”

  • Hobson13

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm Hobson,

    I never said any of those “blanket responses”.

    I wasn’t necessarily pointing you out as much as I was previous posters.

    “They obviously have enough strengths to overcome their shortcomings.”

    Perhaps you’re right and perhaps you are wrong. This statement depends entirely on who we are playing and the matchups involved.

    “In fact, show me any team that doesn’t have some “issues”.”

    This line cracks me up. In the beginning of your post you stated how you never said any of those “blanket” responses (which up until that point you really hadn’t). Then you end your post with exact kind of cliche I was referring to that essentially states “no one is perfect”. Yes, I know that no team is perfect, but they at least attempt to shore up their deficiencies by bringing in new players. Our big new names are Jeffers and Novak.

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:12 pm @Hobson13

    “They (Brewer and Murphy) aren’t really better than Quinn or Splitter are, so why would Spurs even bother to sign them up?”

    So Murphy and Brewer are the same as Quinn and Splitter? How do I even respond to such an absurd comment?

  • Len

    “It is not a good arguement to say that if a player is not on a team, or gets cut/realeased/boughtout, or is traded several times that they can’t play. There are many reasons why things like this happen; money, desire to go younger, not enough room at his position, and not the right fit for a certain team.”

    Look man, I said there is a reason that each of them won’t help the Spurs. That reason is they don’t have talent, are old, or don’t fit the Spurs.

    Howard is absolutely done in the NBA. He has a horrible attitude and work ethic. Mentioning him as a possible pickup for the Spurs is ridiculous. It’s a moot point anyway as the Wizs didn’t buy him out.

    Pavlovic has always frustrated the teams that signed him. He is a really streaky shooter, doesn’t shoot FT’s well. He isn’t a horrible player but he has always lacked discipline and focus in his game. His spot with the Spurs would have been backing up RJ except for the fact that he’s too undisciplined.

    Leon Powe simply doesn’t have a strong enough left knee. His rehab from a second knee injury hasn’t gone well but now, all of a sudden, at the trade deadline he claims to be fine. I don’t buy it. He played poorly for a whopping 187 mins for the Cavs this year but suddenly at the trade deadline he is rejuvenated. We’ll see if I’m wrong as Memphis signed him.

    Dan Gadzuric would have been fine a couple years ago. He has become a foul machine the last couple of years. He is atrocious at free throws. The question is whether he is better than Splitter this year? The answer is no. Not to mention, Splitter will get better and Dan will be out of the league soon.

    Carlos Arroyo is a closer call. He has been an OK PG in the league. He is suited for the backup PG position. He has always been a little turnover prone. I guess that was the difference. Maybe a personality issue.

  • Len

    “This line cracks me up. In the beginning of your post you stated how you never said any of those “blanket” responses (which up until that point you really hadn’t). Then you end your post with exact kind of cliche I was referring to that essentially states “no one is perfect”. Yes, I know that no team is perfect, but they at least attempt to shore up their deficiencies by bringing in new players. Our big new names are Jeffers and Novak.”

    Well Hobson, Im confused why that’s funny because you didn’t single that out as one of your “blanket responses”.

    And I think you are missing mine many other posters points. The Spurs should have tried to improve at the deadline. I even think they should have tried harder. But, there wasn’t an abundance of available talent and the Spurs aren’t “in trouble” because they didn’t get a player.

    “I made a benign statement a week ago that the Spurs should look to bring in a decent FA (I specifically used Murphy and Brewer as examples)”

    That’s incorrect that the Spurs should have gone after Murphy. He agreed not to go to a Western conference team as part of the buyout. OK?

  • Ian

    I never said the term “they” were addressing Brewer and Murphy. I meant other FAs that were available for the Spurs to sign (like Arroyo and Gadzuric, for example).

  • Hobson13

    March 4th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Look, at this point, neither one of us is getting anywhere. My original post wasn’t calling you out specifically. However, we are just nitpicking each others arguments when we may, in fact, agree on 90% of the issue to begin with.

    March 4th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I see. I thought you were referring to Murhpy and Brewer since I’d written nothing regarding Arroyo and Dadzuric.

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