Eric Dawson was called up to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday to replace an injured Tiago Splitter on the bench. Dawson isn't like to get a lot of playing time while he's with the team that owns his Austin Toros, but the call-up itself is one that helps the NBA D-League keep its 'Development' label.
Dawson doesn't have a name, a pedigree, the "look" or anything else that the majority of the players have, but he's stuck around the D-League long enough to show San Antonio he's worthy of an opportunity.
The 26-year-old has played for the Toros every season since coming out of Midwestern State University, a school that sounds made up but is actually apparently a Division 2 school located in Wichita Falls.
The 6-foot-9 bulldozer has only played a total of 67 games over five seasons in the Spurs' system, but he's shown the skills necessary to earn the opportunity everyone in the D-League dreams of getting.
The former Spurs' Summer Leaguer hasn't stuck with the D-League completely throughout his five seasons of professional basketball -- as the 67 games over five seasons indicate -- but he's made the most of his time in the NBA's official minor league. Between collecting solid paychecks while playing in Asia and South America, he concentrated on getting better while playing in an NBA system down in Texas.
Dawson wasn't a name coming out of college, he didn't have prior NBA experience to catch the eye of NBA talent evaluators and he's not some extremely athletic 7-footer that makes everyone's jaw drop when he steps on the floor. He simply continued to refine his game while playing against solid competition, developing it to the point that the Spurs saw him as a suitable replacement when Splitter went down due to injury.
It's probably the perfect storm in terms of his actually getting a call-up (familiarity with the Spurs by way of the Toros, injury to a big man, his being available after defecting to Korea for awhile earlier this year), but it's nice to see when things work out for the grinders.
And, y'know, it's always fun to cheer for the players that actually use the Development League to develop (no offense, Mike James!).
Quick aside: This is exactly the type of call-up the D-League should be marketing, but they didn't even announce the move on their Twitter account. I believe the correct term for my feelings regarding that are "SMH."