It’s Friday and there is perhaps no better to unwind then a San Antonio Spurs roundtable. (There is like 1,568 better things to do with your time but you clicked the link for a reason so stand pat.) Joining me this week will be Air Alamo staff writers Joe Bendiez and Richard Perez. We talk about the hotly contested backup point guard position and, putting ourselves into Gregg Popovich’s shoes, we decide who should earn the final roster spot.
Who is the best fit for the backup point guard position?
Joe Bendiez: Gary Neal is the best fit at this point. At times, I think he can look a little unconfident as the floor general, but he is still somewhat new and this could be a big year for him. His shooting ability is what makes him the better fit than Mills and Joseph. Every team needs bench scoring, and Neal seems like the best bet to help a Spurs team that had some struggles once Parker went out of the game.
On a sidenote, I think Cory Joseph will eventually give Neal a run for his money as long as both are in San Antonio. Joseph was very impressive in Vegas and there is no telling how good Joseph can be as a part of this new-look Spurs.
Richard Perez: Personally, it’s an extremely tough choice, but I would have to lean with Gary Neal due to his tenure with the team and how clutch he can be. Neal has certainly earned a leg up over him, not to discredit Mills though, as both Neal and Mills are highly talented and certainly qualify for the position.
Quixem Ramirez: In some ways, Cory Joseph may be a better point guard option than George Hill. Both aren’t pass-first point guards but Joseph seems to have an easier time dialing his shots down and running the offense. As of now, though, Gary Neal is the best fit, having more experience and, most importantly, succeeding as the back up point guard.
Who is the most intriguing player on the Spurs’ preseason roster?
JB: Eddy Curry is the easy choice here. He provides even more size and veteran leadership to a Spurs team that actually has quite a bit of youth. Curry could challenge for playing time, and as Duncan said, Curry has big potential to be a big player in San Antonio.
RP: Nando De Colo just because he seems like he could potentially be Manu Ginobili’s successor. De Colo has certainly warned up to the fans, hitting the game winning shot to sink the Hawks in the preseason match at the AT&T Center. I am very curious about De Colo and want to dig deeper into what he brings to the table.
QR: Prior to Wednesday’s tilt against the Atlanta Hawks, I would have said Eddy Curry. But … Nando De Colo nearly posted a double-double (11 points and nine assists in 28 minutes off the bench), including the game winning shot with 0.6 seconds left. Anyone who can combine deft passing, clutch shooting and gambling defense has my attention.
What would you do with DeJuan Blair, who appears to be in much better physical shape this season?
JB: I would love to keep Blair, but if he can build up some trade value, I would not be surprised to see the Spurs try to make a deal involving DeJuan. No one wants to see another postseason with Blair glued to the bench, so either he can be effective and develop an actual role or the Spurs can try and package him.
RP: I would let him find a spot in the rotation and let this new DeJuan Blair find where he is most comfortable, and see what aspects of his game he has improved upon. I think very highly of Blair and the talent and skill set he possess, and with how young he is, have him be molded by Coach Pop into the player that we need him to be.
QR: If Blair continues to play well in preseason and Tisgo Splitter continues to be ineffective (or injured), then you can make a legitimate case for Blair to start or, at the very least, get more minutes than Splitter. I still think trading his $1.05 million expiring contract, which is not fully guaranteed, could bring in a valuable asset.
Say you’re Gregg Popovich: Who would you select for the final roster spot?
JB: Definitely Curry. He gives the Spurs size to match with teams like the Grizzlies and Clippers. The Spurs would have to resort to small ball at times with only one true small forward, but the Spurs can make it work with the guards and the big men they have.
RP: I’d give the slot to Eddy Curry to prove himself and show his mettle. And not only would I give Curry the shot due to his size, I think a 10 year veteran would be a great influence and a big presence in the locker room to improve upon team chemistry. With the young guns like Cory Joseph, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green. Tiago Splitter, and Gary Neal on the Spurs roster, a guy who has been around the block a few times and knows what he’s doing can be a huge influence on the young guys.
QR: Though he hasn’t necessarily stood out to the naked eye, I’m using the final spot for Derrick Brown, who finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting against the Hawks. Brown doesn’t have the size of Eddy Curry nor can he stretch the defense as well as Josh Powell; he does, however, work well away from the ball and his 6-foot-7 frame allows him to defend power forwards, giving the Spurs some extra flexibility if Popovich so chooses. Plus, keeping six big men doesn’t seem too practical.