Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray has practiced with Jaron Blossomgame for less than a week, but he’s seen enough of the former Clemson forward to appreciate his game.
“I like him already,” Murray said. “I love energy dudes. He’s trying to go the glass, trying to dunk it. He knows when to shoot the open shot and pass.”
Blossomgame, 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, was selected by the Spurs with the next-to-last pick (59th overall) of the two-round NBA draft last week. He arrived in San Antonio this week and has been practicing with the Silver and Black Summer League team.
The Spurs left Sunday morning for Salt Lake City, where they will play in the Utah Jazz Summer League on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. San Antonio opens play against Utah at 8 p.m. Monday.
Blossomgame is among 14 players on the Silver and Black’s roster, which includes Colorado guard Derrick White, this year’s first-round draft pick. Murray, forward Davis Bertans, and guard Bryn Forbes, all rookies on the 2016-17 team that went 61-21 and reached the Western Conference Finals, also are on the squad.
Assistant coach Will Hardy will coach the Silver and Black Summer League team. One of his assistants is Sebastian "Sepo" Ginobili, an older brother of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
The Spurs also will play in the NBA Summer League, scheduled July 7-17 in Las Vegas. San Antonio takes on Miami in its opener at 5 p.m. Saturday. A total of 24 NBA teams will vie for the league championship in a tournament-style format.
Blossomgame and other rookies have spent the past few days learning about “The Spurs Way,” the tangible and intangible elements of a culture that has made the franchise a model of consistency for the past two decades.
“I’m starting to get a feel for it,” Blossomgame said Saturday after practice. “I like the way things are run here. Everything is very organized, very sharp. They want things done the right way. A player like myself coming to an organization like this means a lot to me."
Describing himself as “a hard-working energy guy,” Blossomgame is banking that the defensive versatility and rebounding he consistently demonstrated in college will carry over to the NBA.
Blossomgame said that being an NBA rookie feels like being a freshman again.
“It’s a lot of stuff to learn, a lot of technique to learn,” he said. “But the guys that have been here last year, Dejounte, Bryn, and Davis, have done a good job helping us get through. Being able to get advice from those guys has definitely helped.”
Two of the biggest adjustments Blossomgame has had to make is adapting to the speed and physical nature of the NBA game.
“The speed and physicality stand out immediately,” he said. “Everything happens so much faster. There’s a lot more spacing on this court. How strong and big the guys are, you feel every screen that gets set. Having to run through a couple of those doesn’t feel that good. There’s definitely a lot to learn.”
Learning The Spurs Way is priority No. 1 for any newcomer, including veterans.
“Most importantly, it’s a winning culture,” Blossomgame said. “They consistently win every year. They’re in the hunt every year. It’s a defense-first culture also, and I think that helps me, being a defensive-minded player, being able to guard multiple positions, and being able to disrupt offenses with my athleticism, and being able to rebound at a high level.
“I think that’s a good fit for me. As far as the culture, I think it’s a real good spot for me. I just want to be able to come here and grow as a player.”
Blossomgame averaged 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds as a senior and led Clemson in scoring for the third consecutive season. He started all 33 of the Tigers’ games in 2016-17, earning All-ACC honors for the second year in a row.
Asked what skills he’d like to showcase in Utah, Blossomgame said: “My versatility, offensively and defensively, being able to guard ones, twos, threes, and fours and switching out on all types of screens.
“On the offensive end, being able to stretch the floor and shoot corner threes, make good decisions with the basketball, and play on all three levels of the game at the free-throw line. Just be active, be a player that can come in and help in any way.”
Blossomgame, who grew up in Alpharetta, Ga., earned a degree in sociology from Clemson last August.