Story by KL Chouinard
On the day that he officially signed with the Atlanta Hawks, Dewayne Dedmon took a moment to appreciate the journey that took him to this point.
“It has definitely been a blessing,” the 7-foot center said. “I went the D-League route, got called up, got sent back down. Just to be able to say that I’m in my fifth season in the NBA, it’s definitely a blessing.”
Dedmon’s winding NBA path to this point in his career began in Golden State when he was last player cut from the Warriors before the 2013-14 season. Even though he didn’t make the team, Dedmon caught on with the Warriors’ developmental league affiliate in Santa Cruz, before getting called up later in the season.
Back in 2013, current Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk was the assistant GM for the Warriors, so he knows Dedmon’s game well.
“Dewayne is an improving and athletic big man who can protect the rim and run the floor,” Schlenk said in a written statement. “He played a valuable role for a very good team last season, and we’re pleased to bring him to Atlanta.”
Dedmon averaged 5.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in the 76 games that he played for the San Antonio Spurs last season, but to get a feel for his true value on the court, one has to dig a little deeper into the numbers.
For starters, Dedmon posted his numbers in just 17.5 minutes per game. San Antonio used a tag-team tandem of Dedmon and future Hall-of-Famer Pau Gasol at center, with Dedmon giving the 62-win Spurs a combination of elite rebounding and rim protection.
Among players who averaged 15 or more minutes per game, Dedmon finished in the top 10 in defensive rebounding percentage (30.3 percent). And among players who also defended four or more shots at the rim, Dedmon ranked in the top 10 at defensive field goal percentage allowed at the rim (44.5 percent).
To put it another way, the Spurs had the best defensive rating in the NBA last season, and their defense was substantially better with Dedmon on the court. Head Coach Gregg Popovich raved about his productivity after a 17-point, 17-rebound performance in February.
“Dewayne Dedmon was the star of the show,” he told media after the Feb. 10 win over Detroit. “He’s a young colt, just learning the game really.”
He also drew praise from fellow big man and former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge after the performance.
“Dewayne set the tone for us on the board, battling the big fella (Andre Drummond) down there, and I thought everyone followed his lead,” Aldridge told the San Antonio Express-News.
Dedmon said he chose Atlanta because the Hawks were the best fit. He liked that the Hawks ran a system similar to the one that the Spurs use, and he thinks that the familiarity will give him a leg up on adjusting to his new home.
“I came from San Antonio, and Atlanta is kind of like the baby San Antonio,” Dedmon said. “There are a lot of people that were working under Pop who are here now. It’s kind of the same philosophy.”