Portland, Ore. (KOIN) – Drew Eubanks learned really early in his NBA career things don’t always work out the way you hope them to.
In fact, he learned that lesson before his career technically started.
It’s why the undrafted center out of Oregon State called it “unbelievable” that he was back in his hometown, with an opportunity to play for the team he loved watching in high school.
“The stars kind of have to align for everything to work out,” said Eubanks.
It’s a lesson Eubanks said he realized after going undrafted, before being picked up by San Antonio, where he played in 148 games for the Spurs, averaging 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and just shy of a block and steal a game through four years.
“You look at the league and you realize there’s three things that need to happen,” said Eubanks of the process of getting picked up by a franchise.
“First there has to be a want,” said Eubanks. “The team has to want you.”
Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups left no doubt on Tuesday, the Blazers wanted to sign Eubanks, and not just for his hometown ties.
“I think the way that we play is kind of the way that he plays,” said Billups. “He plays his butt off, plays hard, plays with some toughness out there, so I’m excited to coach him.”
“[Second] there has to be a need,” said Eubanks. “Like the team needs a back-up five or something.”
There’s no question the Blazers need some depth in their frontcourt. Having traded away Larry Nance Jr., Robert Covington, and waiving veteran center Cody Zeller, and with Jusuf Nurkic and Trendon Watford the only players listed at the center position on the depth chart, Portland needs some depth to finish out the last 24 games of the regular season.
“[Third} there has to be the opportunity,” said Eubanks of the final piece needed to find your way onto an NBA team.
With the moves Portland has made in recent days, there was opportunity to add Eubanks, who Billups emphasized, is no rookie, and has true NBA experience.
A want, a need, and an opportunity – the stars that aligned for Eubanks to put on the same team’s jersey as the player he used to emulate while he was at Reynolds High School: LaMarcus Aldridge.
“I used to wear the arm sleeve, try to be like LaMarcus, take fadeaway 2’s off the baseline” Eubanks remembers.
Opportunity got him in the door but for Eubanks, the opportunity is really just beginning. The Trail Blazers signed the former Oregon State Beaver to a 10-day contract. In their next 10 days, Portland has the toughest remaining stretch of their season, facing Golden State, Denver and Phoenix and Billups fully plans to see what Eubanks can bring to the table.
“I need to see what [Eubanks] can do,” said Billups. “Can they help us? Can they play? I don’t think it’s fair to get a 10-day guy and don’t even let him to play to show if he can give you something. So, yeah, Drew’s going to be out there.”
Eubanks believes his reputation precedes him in Portland as far as what kind of player he is in the NBA.
“I like to be the guy that you hate to play against but love to have on your team,” said Eubanks. “So, I’m going to be physical, I’m going to be pissing people off with the way I set screens.”
Eubanks said Billups told him his role off the bench is to be a compliment to Nurkic’s style of play as the team’s starting center.
“He wants me to compliment Nurk, kind of like yin and yang a little bit. Nurk’s a little bit more of a slower, more methodical, banger big and [Billups] wants me to come off the bench and be athletic, disrupt things and then get out, catch lobs and just be myself and bring energy.”
The Blazers open their post-All Star break play on Thursday when they face the Golden State Warriors with a 7 pm tip-off at Moda Center.