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Apr 12, 2017
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It's no secret how hard it is for a basketball player to carve out a niche in the NBA.

One needs either prodigious talent (LeBron James, Stephen Curry) or dumb luck (Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic) to be able to penetrate such a cutthroat business. Even then, majority of these hopeful superstars don't survive the pros, and ultimately find themselves stuck in the D-League or flat out ballin'...overseas.

All hope is not lost. For well-run organizations like the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, scouts are working overtime in searching for those hidden gems, and giving oft-shunned players their due. Most of the time, these smart gambles pay off handsomely, like in the case of Spurs guard Jonathon Simmons.

Going undrafted in 2012 and spending a couple of years as a member of San Antonio's D-League affiliate the Austin Toros/Spurs, Simmons finally got a call-up from coach Gregg Popovich and suited up for the Western Conference powerhouse last year. Primarily as a backup shooting guard, he introduced himself to the league with a career performance (20 points) in this season's opening game against the Golden State Warriors.

These days, when "Juice" isn't tracking down unsuspecting prey for a chasedown block, he has been busy submitting entries for the NBA Dunk of the Year:

The poster dunk's hapless victim, Meyers Leonard, and the Portland Trailblazers may have gotten away with the win off a broken play, 99-98, but Simmons has definitely made a case for the nonexistent award, and fittingly, his place on the team's bright future.

 

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