Cory Joseph: C
CoJo is only effective as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls as long as he is initiating the offense for himself. He struggled to hit the roll man, sans an impressive pass to Eric Dawson, as he prefers to break down the offense prior to making any decisions. This approach leads to him missing potential angles for the roll man; but, at this stage, his assertiveness is nice to see. Joseph exhibited this tendency last night when he turned the corner, spun away from the defenders before he found an open spot-up shooter in the corner after the defender sunk in to help.
Yet Joseph earns a C because he totaled an unacceptable amount of turnovers — 10 to be exact. (He also failed to score in double-digits for the first time in Vegas.) Some of his mistakes can be attributed to poor officiating but he had too many instances where he either threaded the needle to no avail, slipped or misjudged a pass within point blank range.
James Anderson: B-
Anderson led the team in scoring for the majority of the game though nothing in particular stood out to me. He converted on a 3-pointer in transition; his release looked fluid and his cadence was on point. Defensively, he prevented the majority of angles, leading me to believe that he could develop into a nice defender down the line.
Cedric Jackson: A
Jackson wasn’t perfect but, given his relative anonymity, he vastly outperformed. From what I gleamed from his play, Jackson utilized his quickness effectively. Perhaps what made him so effective, irrespective to his speed, was that he never rushed, never wavered, and rewarded his teammates that kept up with him in transition. He had many transition opportunities because he continually harassed the ball handler — he did, admittedly, give up a little too much space initially on pick-and-rolls though he usually made a concerted effort to recover — forcing seven steals. He scored eight points, many of which came from acrobatic finishes. I don’t expect him to make a dent in the Spurs’ future plans but he certainly improved his case.
JaMychal Green: B+
He began the game with an awkward hook shot that didn’t fit within the confines of any offense. Once he settled down, Green showed why he’s a considerably more valuable player than Luke Zeller, Alexis Ajinca and Ryan Richards. His mid-range game makes him an essential partner in pick-and-pops and he was particularly active on both sides of the ball. Given his play as of late I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an invitation to Spurs training camp.
Tyler Wilkerson: A
Not only did Wilkerson lead the team in scoring despite attempting only seven shots but he provided excellent help defense from every area of the floor. When the Spurs guards funneled the attack to the interior — intentionally or unintentionally — Wilkerson reacted quickly enough to prevent the easy points. Wilkerson has a similar game to Green, putting him in the conversation for a training camp invite as well. But what I like most about his game is his intensity; his five rebounds stemmed from his activity on the offensive end alone. His line would look even more impressive if he didn’t miss five of seven free throws.
Eric Dawson: C
Dawson has distanced himself from the majority of the frontcourt players but forgive me if I felt a little underwhelmed last night. He isn’t a fixture in pick-and-rolls because he barrels toward the lane at the wrong time and he’s not nearly as athletic or potent from 15-feet and beyond like Green and Wilkerson. He didn’t rebound particularly well either, grabbing three rebounds in 18:43 minutes. That’s his strong suit and if he’s not contributing in that facet he becomes another indistinguishable talent.
L.D. Williams: D
Give him credit for his aggressiveness but he didn’t muster up anything to warrant that shot selection.
Alexis Ajinca: B+
Ajinca looked revitalized as his lack of mobility isn’t as noticeable when he’s darting around the interior with more fervor. He still lacks any semblance of lateral quickness thus giving opposing ball handlers an angle at the rim almost every time. His wingspan should deter them a bit but that’s not the case — a testament to his sheer inability to stay in front of anyone. That wasn’t eradicated but Ajinca rebounded and defended better than he has in Vegas. I’m a little wary of his shot selection — Taylor Jenkins, covering for Jacque Vaughn last night, immediately placed him on the bench after he settled with a long 3-pointer. His experience and length, literally no one offers that kind of height, give him inherent advantages over his competition but his pick-and-roll coverage can’t be tolerated.
Moses Ehambe: D
Ehambe didn’t separate himself from anyone. I noticed he made a corner 3-pointer but that’s all I saw. Did I miss something?
Marcus Denmon: C+
Denmon struggled to shoot from the field but I saw a couple things that were kind of positive. San Antonio paired him with CoJo in the backcourt, an unusually small backcourt, and ran quite a bit of pick-and-rolls with him initiating the offense. He’s instantly stymied by an effective trap but, like Joseph except not as polished, excels when he’s allowed to use the extra space to his advantage. I was really disappointed when he settled for a long 2-pointer after Miami switched the screen but the idea is that he’ll learn to recognize that mismatch over time. Denmon hasn’t done much to earn anything other than an extended stint with Austin which is a tad disconcerting but not entirely surprising either.
Derrick Byars: C
Byars started but only earned 7:48 minutes. The extent of his offense damage was a corner 3-pointer and a nice little reverse layup.
Alexis Wagmene: F
I understand that he’s coming off an injury and is probably overmatched but his flatlined air ball off a pick-and-pop was, well, pretty ugly. He also looked pretty slow.
Dwight Buycks: Inc
Kawhi Leonard: Inc
It’s likely that Leonard has seen his last Summer League action ever. Is it too early to hang his jersey in the rafters?
Ryan Richards: Inc
Watching the enigma that is Richards was one of the key things to watch in Vegas. For the most part Richards hasn’t done much to warrant that kind of excitement. He’s athletic, long and surprisingly agile. He seems to have a modicum of offensive ability and the length to disrupt shots in the defensive end. Richards doesn’t seem to have an innate understanding of how to succeed in the NBA — at this juncture, he merely has the potential to succeed. Whether he decides to join the Toros to further his development or stray overseas will be an important decision for his career. He’s young but he should tread carefully.
Luke Zeller: Inc
Zeller has played himself out of the final roster spot by providing little than 3-point shooting. He earned 19.7 minutes through the first three games, averaging a pedestrian 6.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 38.1% shooting — and that is with a 44.4% shooting mark behind the arc inflating it a bit. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise because this is the player we expected.