Las Vegas Summer League: Denmon, Thomas And Richards Ready To Prove Their Worth


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The summer league of all summer leagues kicks-off today as the San Antonio Spurs will be among 21 other teams competing at the same venue as before but under a new set of rules.  It has been said that if you are wanting to compete in a summer league, the one that is put on in Las Vegas is where you would want to be at.

Tonight, the San Antonio Spurs kick-off their summer league against the Charlotte Bobcats.  For teams competing in the summer league, they will be introducing fresh faces to the league via the NBA Draft.  The Spurs will see the Bobcats first round pick, Cody Zeller. Zeller who left school early to come into the league averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals in 29.5 minutes per game at Indiana during the 2012-2013 season.

Feb 24, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas (1) shoots underneath defending Michigan State Spartans forward Adreian Payne (5) at the Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs will have familiar faces on their roster in Corey Joseph, Nando De Colo, Aaron Baynes, it is new faces that will surely be center stage for Spurs fans to get their first look at them.  DeShaun Thomas, the player who refused to give the Spurs his phone number during the combine, Ryan Richards and Marcus Denmon.

Many may remember the name Ryan Richards. This will be his second appearance on the Spurs summer league roster  He was drafted back in 2010 by the San Antonio Spurs, and right away was sent overseas.  He played for Asseco Prokom Gdynia, Polish team, and then BC Zepter Vienna of the Austrian Basketball League.  The summer last year, he made an appearance with the Spurs summer league, he played in 4 games and averaged 11 minutes, 35.7 percent from the floor, 60 percent from the line. He also averaged 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 turnovers and 3.3 points.

 In the 2012 draft, Marcus Denmon was selected 59th overall by San Antonio.  Like Richards, Denmon also went to play overseas.  He stated that was his plan all along.

“Well, when I was drafted that was always the plan for me to go to France by the San Antonio Spurs.  A lot of people thought I didn’t make the team or I got cut or different stuff like that but the Spurs are really strategic in what they do. They let me know the night I was drafted that it was just a contract situation so I went to France my first year as a rookie and played over there.”

He played farely well while in France and put up some decent numbers, but he knows he has a lot to prove to not only himself but others that don’t think he has what it takes to get into the league.  He averaged just under 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 turnovers in 31.5 minutes per game.

February 29, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers guard Marcus Denmon (12) waits for a shot during the second half at Mizzou Arena. The Missouri Tigers defeated the Iowa State Cyclones 78-72. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

This will be his second stint for the Spurs summer league as well.  In five games he averaged 5.4 points, 1.6 assists, 1.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

The newest Spur, DeShawn Thomas was picked 58th overall.  He has been well-known for being that player that refused to give out his contact information.  That did not detour San Antonio at all.  They still selected him and now he knows he has to prove himself.

Some of Thomas’ physical tools work against him with regard to making the transition. Most scoring wings’ production is driven by their athleticism, but not Thomas’. He’s forced to rely on touch, strength and instincts.

The most troubling aspect of Thomas’ physical limitations is how they will affect his defensive capabilities. He lacks the foot speed to cover quick wings on the perimeter and the size and length to body up with 4s down low. Thomas also isn’t the most conditioned athlete, as his effort level suffers with regard to intensity and closing out on shooters.

At 6’7”, Thomas has the size to play the small forward position at the next level, but the combo-forward label he previously had has probably worn thin.

Out of the three that are going to be playing for the San Antonio Spurs, all of them have something to prove.  Senior Staff Writer here at Air Alamo John Diaz has his own opinion on whom he feels needs to step up more during this time.

Denmon by far needs to have the better Summer League. Not because he was atrocious last year, (5.4 points a game, 37% FG shooting, 25% 3PT shooting), but because there’s a roster spot waiting for him. If the Spurs decide not to bring back Gary Neal, or if Neal is too far out of the Spurs price range, then Denmon can come in immediately and fill that role. Thomas and Richards both have things to prove, but they could greatly benefit by spending next season in Austin instead. Denmon already impressed in France last season. Even though Neal is a better shooter, the “Mizzou Monster” is extremely efficient and is a younger, cheaper alternative.

Do you agree? Let us know whom you feel needs to have the bigger play during the league in our comments below.