As the San Antonio Spurs Summer League team prepares to play in Las Vegas from July 12-22, there will be opportunities for some young veteran Spurs players to showcase some different aspects of their games that they usually don’t have time to do during the regular season.
Three such players are Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo, and Aron Baynes. Summer League head coach Ime Udoka spoke of how the three Spurs players have opportunities to show the coaching staff how they can be productive in different roles as the 2013-2014 season approaches.
“Obviously we’ve got some guys we want to take a look at,” said Udoka Wednesday, “see them in different roles, in different aspects.”
“I’ll give them different looks than they might not get during the season,” continued Udoka of the three Spurs players who were on the NBA Finals roster.
For Joseph, the word leadership was mentioned from both Udoka and Joseph himself. Udoka also said the Spurs want to see Joseph increase his scoring opportunities and dig into opponents on defense.
Joseph also said he still feels the constant pressure of holding the backup point guard spot since De Colo and Patty Mills will continue to compete with him for the role in the coming season.
In De Colo’s case, Udoka said the Spurs would like to see De Colo play off of the ball at the shooting guard position. Even Joseph said he’s ready to share time with De Colo in the backcourt together.
“Whoever gets the ball, we’ll just carry it up,” said Joseph of playing with De Colo. “We can both run the one and two spots.”
As for Baynes, Udoka said the Spurs just want to see what he can do with possessions he didn’t get last season in being a featured option.
“We’ll see overall what he does overall with the skill set that he has,” said Udoka of Baynes.
Another player who spoke Wednesday was the Spurs’ 58th second round draft pick Deshaun Thomas. On the basketball court, Udoka said the Spurs want to see how Thomas will play out on the wing.
“We want to get a look at him at the three as well,” said Udoka of Thomas. “In college he played a lot at the four.”
Thomas said he’s excited to be in the Spurs’ camp and said his goal is to play hard, play defense, and play within the pace of the offense while he’s in Las Vegas. Thomas said one of his main goals is to just be consistent in his time on the floor.
What is surprising is that on draft night, Thomas said he and his family were wearing grey and black clothing throughout the night when the Spurs called his name; he looked around and noticed he was already wearing the Spurs’ colors.
As for the infamous phone number incident with Thomas, he said Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford did call him on draft night and Buford was able to get a hold of Thomas’ phone number through his agent.
From the comments Udoka made, it seems like the Spurs are approaching Summer League as they did last season with Kawhi Leonard. Then, the Spurs used the Summer League opportunities to let Leonard develop his offensive game in running plays, mainly the pick-and-roll. So, expect a lot of different offensive opportunities from Joseph, De Colo, and Baynes.
“I’ve got orders to see what certain guys can do at certain positions,” said Udoka. “I told Nando, Baynes, and Cory to stay in shape and be ready for these opportunities.”
For Udoka he knows his role next season will change as an assistant coach with Mike Budenholzer taking the head-coaching job with the Atlanta Hawks. He said he and the other Spurs assistant coaches will have to pick up the responsibilities Budenholzer held.
Summer League Practice Notes
- Spurs guard Patty Mills was in the gym shooting free throws with De Colo. He won’t be playing with the summer league team, but it’s a sign he’s healing from his foot injury that he had to have surgery for during the NBA Finals.
- Udoka said he still feels the “sting” of losing in the Finals but with Summer League keeping him busy, he’s been able to stay focused on the coming season.