Should the Spurs keep Curtis Jerrells?
We expected this from Alonzo Gee. He was the D-League Rookie of the Year and Spurs summer league standout. He’s a wing player, a position where the Spurs are short on everything — shooting, defense, athleticism, and length. But so far this preseason, Gee can’t find the court. Â Instead, his former Austin Toros teammate Curtis Jerrells is using training camp as a career stepping stone. Jerrells is one of the Spurs’ most productive players this preseason.
And last night, Jerrells sparked the Spurs to victory against the Clippers.
Jerrels entered the game with 2:34 remaining in the third. The score was 63-78, bad guys. Jerrells grabbed the reignsÂ and led the Spurs offensively and defensively for the remainder of the contest. In 15 minutes, Jerrells had 11 points, three assists, a steal, and a variety of timely shots, whether from deep or near the hoop. And he continues to playÂ surprisingly good on-the-ball defense.Â Jerrells finished the game +14.
I’m not sure what to make of Jerrells’ preseason, other than the obvious. He’s better than we expected. He played well in summer league, but not exceptionally well. Â But other than DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan, Jerrells has had the best preseason of any Spur. Curtis Jerrells, the kid from Baylor. The Austin Toros project.
What’s most surprising about Jerrells’ transformation into an NBA-quality player is that he wasn’t anything approaching a point guard in college. Last season, Toros head coach Quin Snyder “made” Jerrells into a point guard, but he mostly looked like a shooting guard barking sets. Credit Snyder and Jerrells for putting in the work, because Jerrells should be on an NBA roster. The question is, will he make the Spurs’ roster? The answer isn’t as obvious.
What Jerrells has going for him is a good preseason, especially as an unexpectedly competent defender and 3-point shooter. Those are things the Spurs like, right? But on the other side of the ledger is a longer list of complicating factors. The Spurs want to keep 13 or 14 players, but not 15. Gregg Popovich has previously expressed confidence in fellow camp hopeful Garrett Temple. The Spurs are weak at wing, not at point guard — Tony Parker, George Hill and Manu GinobiliÂ provide enough depth at the point. If the Spurs cut Jerrells, there is a chance they can still monitor his progress in AustinÂ because of the D-League’s arrangement between NBA teams and their affiliates.
As the title of this post indicates, I doubt the last of these is still an option. Jerrells will play for a high quality professional team this season. If not in the NBA, then elsewhere. There are rumors that Jerrells will play for Partizan Belgrade if the Spurs elect to cut him. Whatever the case, the Jerrells situation is unexpected and curious.