Corey Joseph. Photo Courtesy NBA.Com
Practice makes you better. I am sure that everyone that has played any type of sports have heard that saying before, no matter how successful you may be, there is always room for improvement. For the San Antonio Spurs, making it to another NBA Finals appearance this past season could be something that any team would be happy to get to that spot, but not winning it, would make you want to get in the gym again.
Las Vegas Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs were looking at for being their spot to continue to become perfect. It is not a time to just relax, because it is the off-season. It is time to get better.
The Spurs obviously didn’t play any of their big-minute players, but used their slate of Summer League games to come away with a better idea of which players could stick on the roster for 2013-14 and beyond.
Not expected to go undefeated in the summer leauge, the Spurs fared well still, finishing with a 3-2 record. Maybe not a record that sticks out as being something to talk about but you have to remembered that these teams are thrown together for a few weeks and have to go out and perform well. This summer league I was looking forward to seeing what current players, Corey Joseph, Nando De Colo, Aaron Baynes, as well as the newest Spurs DeShaun Thomas could do.
I will now take you guys through what I saw from this years summer league season for the San Antonio Spurs.
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
Second Round pick DeShaun Thomas really impressed during the Summer League and one thing was very apparent, he can score.
Every team in the NBA knew that before they passed on Thomas in last month’s draft, but they questioned other aspects of his game. Can he defend? Can he rebound? Or basically, is he athletic enough to do anything besides make open shots?
In the five Summer League games, Thomas showed that he can do more than make open shots against NBA defenders. Many times throughout the 10-day competition, Thomas displayed an ability to make shots despite a good contest from his defender. He also was able to sense when his defender wanted to block his shot, and used a pump fake to get past him.
Against the Charlotte Bobcats, he dropped 18 points on just 13 shots. Within those 13 shots, he showed how he can create his own shot when he is being played hard. On top of his scoring ability, he did help on rebounding as he pulled down 5 a game.
I am not sure if he will be the one to grab that last roster spot that the Spurs usually hold on to for mid-season additions, but Thomas surely did show that he can play at the next level.
Apr 10, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Nando de Colo (25) before the first half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
When Nando De Colo saw his name on the Summer League roster, there were reports stating that he was unsure why he was needing to head to Las Vegas to play with the team. Greg Popovich dubbed him as the mini-manu. I am still scratching my head at this as that would imply that he could do the things that Ginobili does on the floor.
Well, no. Know where near.
In Vegas, De Colo’s performance was not one to talk about. Though he averaged 11.3 points and 4.0 assists per game the combo guard also shot just 34 percent from the field, committed 3.3 turnovers per game and fouled 4.3 times per game.
The only thing that can be compared to between De Colo and Ginobili is where they were drafted to start their careers. Late in the second-round. Yeah, that is it.
How many of you knew who Ryan Richards was when he stepped foot on the floor for the San Antonio Spurs during summer league? Well, San Antonio drafted the British big man in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft.
Not many knew whom he was or how he played because he has been overseas for the past two years polishing his skills. He came over in 2012 to play for the Spurs summer league team in which fans were excited to see him play but left disappointed in his play. Richards averaged just 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds on 35.7 percent shooting.
2013 Summer league seemed to be the same outcome for him as he did not find himself any large amounts of playing time, that is until the Spurs final game against the Milwaukee Bucks where he couldn’t of picked a perfect time to play well.
In just sixteen minutes, Richards was able to score 18 points in leading the Spurs to a 90 to 80 win.
He still has some areas to improve, and being only 22, there is a lot of time for him.
Jun 6, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph (5) during the first quarter of game one of the 2013 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Cory Joseph to me really impresses and he is a point guards, point guard. He has shown through this past season and during the summer league that he is willing to work on his game in order to prove that he is a good enough to continue to contribute.
What I like about Joseph is his poise, he showed during the Summer league that will take what the defense gives him, he doesn’t force many shots, he nearly takes shots, to me he is pass first, shoot second, point guard.
I feel that he is a good compliment to Tony Parker. Parker being one of if not the best point guards in the league can show Joseph some things and give him advice to where he needs to improve.
Joseph has a bright future in this league, he knows his role on the team and I like that he does not try to overdue anything when he is in the game. Truly a fan favorite. I always look forward to watching him when he enters the game.
Apr 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Aron Baynes (16) shoots the ball against Los Angeles Lakers point guard Andrew Goudelock (0) in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
At 6’10” and 260 pounds, Aron Baynes has broad shoulders and a muscular frame. He runs the floor well and has good explosiveness for his size. All that is listed establishes that he does have the build and the skills to play the part of a big man in the NBA.
While in Las Vegas, Baynes had the chance to show his skills as he did not get the chance during the regular season and playoffs. Baynes played in just 16 games last regular season, and managed only 141 minutes in total.
Baynes was able to average a double-double in the summer league as he poured in 12 points and 10 rebounds.
This coming season he should see himself getting more playing time did he did this past season. I see Head Coach Gregg Popovich giving him 10 minutes per game to use his physical play against other bigs in the league. Remember, against the Los Angeles Lakers he fared well against Dwight Howard as he was playing physical against Howard. We all know how that ended.