Warriors' Dewayne Dedmon Showing Signs of Potential Breakthrough

After his fourth straight NBA D-League game with at least 13 rebounds, it’s time to ask the question: Has Dewayne Dedmon’s breakthrough arrived? Is this the player who USC coach Kevin O’Neill called “a first-round pick, no question” before he even played a game with the Trojans? The stars are beginning to align during the big man’s sixth year of organized basketball.

(For more on Dedmon -- who signed with Golden State last month, then was waived on Dec. 5 before re-joining Santa Cruz as the NBA D-League's No. 9 Prospect -- read this Sports Illustrated profile from 2011.)

Some numbers to consider:

--Dedmon is averaging a league-high 17.3 rebounds per game after pulling down 21 in 33 minutes against the D-Fenders last night. Last year at USC, he averaged 12.5 boards per 36 minutes, the exact playing time he is seeing this season.

--Dedmon has grabbed 23.7% of available rebounds in the time he’s on the court, which also leads the league (among players who average at least 15 minutes played), including 31.8% of available defensive rebounds. To put that in perspective, Andre Drummond leads full-time NBA players at 22.1%, including 27.7% on the defensive end.

--You’d think a near-7-footer with a 7-4 wingspan and 32.5-inch vertical would be throwing down lobs or at least doing most of his damage by simply finishing around the basket. But actually, Dedmon has struggled in the paint, making just 12 of his 25 shots in the restricted area, and has thrived at catch-and-shoots and face-up jumpers, shooting 10-for-16 from 8-16 feet (see shot chart below). Thunder big man Serge Ibaka had a similar natural jumper despite being introduced to the game late, which is interesting because Dedmon compared himself to Ibaka at the Pre-Draft Combine.

--And finally, some cold water to throw on this fire: 1) Not surprisingly, there are still other signs of rawness in Dedmon’s game -- mainly the 5.0 fouls per game that he is averaging, almost exactly on par with his foul rate at USC.

2) He’s played three of his four games against the D-Fenders, who have one legit center on their roster: backup Travis Hyman, who played 55 total minutes in those games. Caliber of competition is especially crucial for a “project” big man like the 24-year-old Dedmon, who had the advantage of being more physically mature than his opponents in college.