Preseason basketball tends to offer more of a feeling of inconsistency than anything else. Players come and go, rotations vary and player performances are all over the map, especially among those fighting for spots. More often than not, it's the hopefuls who make a regular impact throughout training camp that perhaps stand the best chance to earn a spot on a team as loaded as San Antonio.
Derrick Brown is looking like that kind of player.
His numbers don't jump off the page from the third preseason game against the Nuggets, but the fourth-year pro out of Xavier seems to cover many of the bases of what you're looking for in a versatile forward. He had seven points in just over 16 minutes, but his ability to defend both forward positions as well as finish in the open court seems to give San Antonio an added element to a roster heavy with backcourt options.
At this point I'd love to give you a great Gregg Popovich quote on Brown - and maybe this is one - but let's just say this reporter got Popped. It was minor and he did it with a smile on his face, but it took away from an answer I would really have loved to get. Regardless, here goes... Me: Does Derrick Brown ... look like he offers some sort of versatility that this team lacks in the sense of a three/four combo forward?
"Uh, I don't ... is that your coaching expertise coming out? Have you realized a weakness in the team?" Pop asked, quite rhetorically. "Derrick is more a four than he is a three. That's his best position."
So take that for what it's worth, and I'm not going to challenge Pop in terms of personnel. That would be silly. But Brown himself said after the game he's played anything from shooting guard to power forward in Charlotte. Now it just sounds like I'm trying to justify myself. I'll stop. Anyway, back to the story.
Brown is just one of the young guys trying to make an impact and earn a spot on this team. Stephen Jackson - who wants EVERYONE to know his album 'Jack of All Trades' comes out Oct. 30 - said he's seen some promising play out of the youth on the roster. Oh, and Eddy Curry.
"They are catching on quick. Guys like Derrick Brown and the big fella Eddy Curry are doing a good job of learning, especially Derrick Brown. He has to learn the three and four spot," Jack said. "Eddy is in great shape being able to get up and down the court and still make plays.
"(Cory Joseph) has been great. (He's) been one of the best players in camp, and even the young French guy, Nando (De Colo) is doing good, too."
Speaking of the young French guy, De Colo didn't quite have the follow-up performance everyone might have been looking for. His two points and two assists were a far cry from the near double-double (11 points, nine assists) on Wednesday. But again, it's best that we pump the brakes on the kid. He's got a lot to learn and quite a lot of sitting on the bench and observing to do. Yes, his passing was fantastic the other night, but the decision-making has a long way to go. The box score only showed two turnovers next to his name tonight, but if that's an accurate number, then I'll claim that I taught Pop about basketball tonight. (Neither is very accurate.)
It's true the Spurs lost to a young, fun-to-watch Nuggets team in the preseason, but if there's anything to take away from the game it's that Tim Duncan can still play. His 21 points and eight rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting in just 26 minutes is a feel-good story in itself. If these are the kind of nights we can expect from the big man going forward then this will be another long run for San Antonio.
We can only hope. And I could use another opportunity to not get Popped.
Follow along on Twitter: @mtynan_PtR