As a University of Texas grad and die-hard Longhorn basketball fan, it was tough to watch the 2011 NBA draft. I thought at the time that all three Longhorns who got drafted in the first round weren’t quite NBA ready, I still think that about two of them, including San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph.
I remember thinking if any of the three was going to make an impact early on in his career it was going to be Tristan Thompson. Thompson was drafted fourth by the Cleveland Cavaliers, which I still think was a reach, but he’s put in some solid minutes for the Cavs. Jordan Hamilton was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks but ended up in Denver playing for the Nuggets. He’s had a few decent games but for the most part he would have benefited greatly from another year in college.
When I found out Joseph was entering the draft, I was honestly shocked. I thought of him as a very talented guard at Texas, but nowhere near where he needed to be to play in the NBA. The initial shock was nothing compared to my surprise when I heard the Spurs had drafted him in the first round. I really thought he was going to be a late second-rounder if he even got drafted at all. The Spurs have a reputation for their great draft picks, so I thought maybe I was wrong about Cory.
At the beginning of the season, Joseph hardly played at all. He logged a few minutes here and there but wasn’t able to get enough significant time to accumulate any stats. He was sent down to play for the Austin Toros in the D-league, where he had some impressive performances before he was called back up to the Spurs due to the injury to T.J. Ford.
Since then, Joseph has had a few games where he put in some solid minutes, but in my opinion he hasn’t made much of a contribution to the team. He got some serious playing time when the Spurs played Portlandand Popovich sat Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Joseph played 37 minutes but only shot 4-13 from the floor and had 13 points. Not too bad for a rookie, but didn’t mean much because the Spurs lost the game by 40.
Aside from that game, in the month of January, Joseph played more than four minutes only one other time, and there have been quite a few games where he hasn’t entered the game at all. I’m just one of those guys that feels like a player would benefit so much more from getting a full slate of minutes at the college level than riding the bench in the NBA. Joseph has so much more developing to do, and this wasted time could cost him in the future. I’d even much rather see him playing more for the Toros than just getting four minutes a game for the Spurs.
Joseph has an immense amount of talent and potential, he’s just not being utilized the way he should be right now. We definitely can’t call him a bust at this point because he hasn’t gotten the chance to prove himself, but if the Spurs want Joseph to contribute down the road, they need to find a way to get him some playing time.