In the NBA, the team a player is drafted to can have a major impact on the trajectory of their career. Some front offices are better run than others. Some teams have established a strong culture based on winning that other teams have yet to find.
For Quinndary Weatherspoon, he found himself in a great situation when he was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs three years ago. After being named to the All-SEC First Team at Mississippi State and becoming only the third player in school history to amass 2,000 career points, the Spurs selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft at No. 49.
The Spurs have long been an example of NBA success with Gregg Popovich at the helm who just became the NBA’s all-time winningest coach this season. Although Weatherspoon didn’t always get much playing time in San Antonio, he was able to pick up a lot from Popovich that he feels helped him grow as an NBA player.
“He showed me so much from different ways of the game and not just one way of the game,” Weatherspoon said. “He just stayed on me the two years that I was in San Antonio and I think it helped a lot. I learned a lot from Coach Pop just on and off the court but especially on the court. A lot of the defensive things that I use in my game, trying to get to my spots on offense, he helped a lot with it.”
Instead of signing Weatherspoon to a regular NBA second-round rookie contract, the Spurs signed Weatherspoon to a two-way contract. He would split time between San Antonio and their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. He suited up in 36 games for Austin during the 2019-20 season en route to averaging 14.8 points per game, 3.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 45.2 percent from the field.
The NBA season was put on brief hiatus that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and during the bubble restart, Weatherspoon got his first real taste of NBA minutes with the Spurs. The following season, the Spurs would re-sign Weatherspoon to another two-way contract, but he spent most of his second-year recovering from a knee injury and the Spurs opted to not extend a qualifying offer to him.
At the beginning of this season, Weatherspoon found himself playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors. He played well enough to the tune of 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists that Golden State signed him to one of their open two-way roster spots in late December.
To this point, all of Weatherspoon’s NBA experience has come on a two-way contract. For him, the potential shuffling back and forth between the NBA and the G League is just a reminder of, as cliche as it sounds, always staying ready.
“It’s a different experience because you never know where you’re going to be at times,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s just a grind, to be honest. Playing in the G League and playing on a two-way, it’s just a grind. I’m just trying to stay really positive.”
This season, Weatherspoon has played 20 games for Santa Cruz. He’s put up 25.3 points per game while shooting 52.1 percent. He’s been top five in the G League in scoring and he was able to earn some call-up minutes with Golden State.
On Mar. 7 against the Denver Nuggets, Weatherspoon had 11 points off the bench in 15 minutes of play. He shot 4-5 from the field and knocked down his only three-point shot of the game. On Mar. 16 against the Boston Celtics, Weatherspoon had another strong showing, this time on the defensive end against Jaylen Brown.
He didn’t get much of an opportunity on the court in San Antonio, but the chances he got with the Warriors this season he has definitely made the most of it. He has looked the part of an NBA rotation player and he already knows what he can bring to the table if Golden State should need him for regular minutes.
“My defense, just being able to help on the defensive end and then with my offense, just picking and choosing where I could be,” Weatherspoon said. “They got a lot of scorers up there so they don’t really need me to score. Going up top to the Warriors, I think it’s just setting the tone with my defense, and then my offense will take care of itself.”
Weatherspoon has certainly been letting his offense take care of itself in the G League. But the one part of his game that has stood out with Santa Cruz is his playmaking. He’s averaging 3.4 assists per game and he’s looked very comfortable with the ball in his hands and making the right passes in halfcourt sets.
He was somewhat of a playmaker in college, but throughout his career, he’s always been primarily a shooting guard. The ability to handle the ball and be a facilitator is certainly something that can help Weatherspoon solidify a spot in an NBA rotation. Being able to play both guard positions was something that Weatherspoon first started working on when he first got to the NBA with the Spurs.
“When I was in San Antonio, they tried to make me into a combo guard. Just me being there for two years, they had me playing the one a lot,” Weatherspoon said. “Coming back to being in my natural position to shoot and score, I think some of those things I learned in San Antonio have helped me continue to make plays even when I’m being used at the two.”
Weatherspoon is only under contract with the Warriors for this season and when given the opportunity he’s played well enough to make the case for being part of a regular rotation. Whether his next opportunity in the league comes from the Warriors or a different team, he just wants to stay consistent.
“I just want to keep growing and keep staying consistent,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s all just a game, just being consistent. I just want to stay consistent as long as I can and just stick with it for real.”