Mar 1, 2017; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) goes in for the dunk during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Article continues below ...
The San Antonio Spurs selected Jaron Blossomgame with the 59th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Here are five reasons why he was a good selection.
His senior year he averaged 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and shot over 50 percent on twos. He has had his ups and downs at Clemson, from injuries to shooting slumps, but has shown promise at the high points of his career.
Those high points should continue with the Spurs. He will complement the rest of the roster nicely based on his size and projected position, and his ability to make an impact without having the ball in his hands is perfect for San Antonio.
While Blossomgame has many things to work on before turning into to a consistent pro, there are a lot of things the Spurs are getting to work with. Here are five more reasons why Blossomgame was a good pick for the San Antonio Spurs on draft night.
Feb 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets guard Adam Smith (2) attempts a three-point basket against Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) in the second half of their game at McCamish Pavilion. The Yellow Jackets won 75-73. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
1. Defensive versatility
At 6’7″ and 220 pounds, Blossomgame already has the size to guard most wings and forwards in the NBA. Add in his 6’10” wingspan and strong frame and he can probably guard bigger forwards as he adjusts to playing with grown men. In time he could learn how to defend quicker guards as well, so long as he stays engaged and works on his footwork.
This part of his game is important to the Spurs who thrive on good defense. His speed and strength will allow him to guard all over the floor in whatever rotations coach Gregg Popovich has set up.
With Jonathon Simmons entering free agency this year, the Spurs could be in the market for another tough, versatile defender off the bench, and Blossomgame might be able to fill that role. If he can be effective in spot minutes on the defensive end, he should be able to stick around long enough to make strides in his offensive game.
Mar 4, 2017; Clemson, SC, USA; Boston College Eagles forward A.J. Turner (11) and Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) attempt to get the rebound during the second half at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tigers won 82-68. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
For as methodical as the Spurs are in their play, it is always nice for them to have a guy that can come in and throw one down on someone every once in a while. Right now that is again Simmons, but there’s a new guy in town who can do the same thing.
His athleticism though is not just for dunking. You can also find him utilizing it on a rebound in traffic, a put-back attempt or a big block.
His athleticism at the forward spot off the bench will make for a nice pairing with Kyle Anderson. The player nicknamed “Slo Mo” is a long, skilled wing player, who is very…deliberate…with his movements. Blossomgame will provide almost the opposite of that, with his high-flying nature in a more physical, bullying frame.
While these two appear so different, something they have in common is their ability to make the right defensive play, and switch to multiple positions. With this common skill but different ways of doing it, it should provide a good mix of players off the Spurs’ bench.
Mar 9, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) shoots the ball as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward James White (33) defends in the first half during day two of the ACC conference tournament at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
3. Finishes at the rim
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Blossomgame converted on 62.7 percent of his attempts at the basket last year. So not only is he effective in the post, he can score from there in many different ways. He has the athleticism to finish off of lobs/cuts, the speed to take bigger players to the rim, and the strength to post up on smaller defenders. Whatever the situation, if Blossomgame’s near the rim he has the ability to finish.
His ability to create shots around the rim for himself is the question. We know he will still be an effective lob catcher/cutter in the pros, but what else? In college he got to the rim on his speed and strength alone, so he will need to work on his handle in order to get by smaller players on the perimeter. He is also a bit undersized to post up natural power forwards.
Luckily, Blossomgame won’t have to create too often right now. For the time being, his shots will come off of ball and player movement. As time goes on though, he will want to add a few moves to create for himself if need be.
Jan 16, 2016; Greenville, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) reacts after scoring against the Miami Hurricanes in the second half at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The Tigers won 76-65. Mandatory Credit: Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports
4. Offensive rebounds
Thanks to his strength and leaping ability, Blossomgame was a terrific offensive rebounder at Clemson. His strong frame allow him to create space for himself in the post, and his hops allow him to out jump the defender he’s battling.
He has also shown good timing when flying in from the perimeter off a miss, a skill that can be utilized as guards look to leak before boxing out their man. He also has a quick second jump, which allows him to grab a rebound and go right back up with the put-back.
At Clemson this year, Blossomgame averaged 1.8 offensive rebounds per game. Think about how big an offensive rebound can change momentum in a playoff game. If Blossomgame can keep his motor running despite the likely limited playing time coming his way, and snag a few offensive rebounds in a playoff series, he could find himself on the court a lot for a second round pick.
Dec 31, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) stands on the court in the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Clemson defeated Wake 73-68. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
5. Fit in today’s NBA
In today’s NBA, there is a high demand for two-way wings. Jaron Blossomgame fits that exact bill. With the physical tools to guard 2-4 right away, Blossomgame should be out on the court for the Spurs this season. As time goes on though, and teams keep getting smaller big men, we could see him be able to guard any position on the floor.
Offensively he is still coming along, projecting to get most of his points off of cuts, lobs and put-backs. But, he could become a good shooter for the Spurs sooner than some may think. His junior year he shot 44.1 percent per game from deep. These makes were mostly off of pick-and-pop action, or open corner threes. His senior year, he experienced a dip (25.5 percent), which can be attributed to the defense’s attention on him.
With San Antonio, Blossomgame should get plenty of open looks from deep. And with their shooting coach Chip Engelland on staff, his mechanics could stand for some minor tweaking.
The Clemson product has shown the ability to hit open threes in the past, and he should get that same opportunity here. If he can pair knockdown three-point shooting with his defensive versatility, Blossomgame could be a key member of this team for a long time.