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 playerâ€™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 possibilityâ€”for nowâ€”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 Iowaâ€”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 tenureÂ withÂ the SpursÂ will probablyÂ beÂ 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 thatâ€™s not to say this canâ€™t serve as an audition for the Summer League, Austin, or even next yearâ€™s training camp (assuming any of these exist for next season).
An excerpt from Draft Express on what Jeffers brings to the table:
Jeffersâ€™ 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. Heâ€™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 weâ€™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.