The NBA Development Showcase tipped off on Monday morning and, just two games into the four-day affair, the event has already shown why it’s useful. The San Antonio Spurs have decided to call-up Malcolm Thomas from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Pro Basketball Talk has learned from sources close the situation.
It’s an interesting first in-season NBA call-up considering it came just hours before Thomas was set to play his first game at the Showcase. The Spurs apparently had watched Thomas enough through his first eight games in the D-League, however, and didn’t want him to showcase himself too much to other teams so that they’d have competition in calling him up.
Thomas, a 6-foot-9 forward out of San Diego State, was one of a few intriguing rookie D-League prospects hoping for an NBA opportunity this year. In eight games with the D-Fenders, the lanky forward averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while playing for Eric Musselman. The rookie began the season in Korea, but decided to return stateside for an NBA opportunity after receiving a training camp invite from the Los Angeles Lakers — a decision that paid off, apparently, as his call-up with the Spurs shows.
Kawhi Leonard got the majority of the publicity with the San Diego State Aztecs last season, but Thomas was an integral part of the process as well. He didn’t garner much attention on the defensive end, but his ability to play defense, hustle and do the dirty work will certainly suit him well with San Antonio. The Spurs have found quite a bit of value coming out of the Showcase as they were also the first team to call-up a player from last year’s Showcase when they signed swingman Larry Owens from the Tulsa 66ers.