Cory Joseph wasn't supposed to be in the playoff rotation. A call up from the D-League's Austin Toros, Joseph was supposed to fill in for the team during injuries to Tony Parker, Gary Neal, and sometimes Manu Ginobili.
The San Antonio Spurs had more than enough of a surplus with Neal, Nando De Colo, and Patty Mills fighting for minutes in one position for backup point guard.
Fast forward to Game 1 of the first round of the NBA playoffs and Cory Joseph has cracked the rotation over De Colo and Mills and head coach Gregg Popovich's reasoning is simple enough on why the Austin Toros call up has made it this far.
"Cory did a good job defensively. He was solid. He didn't make mistakes," Popovich explained postgame. "He got us into offense. He made a couple of shots, but his defense was very solid and that's what we want him to do."
As Popovich commented after the first game against the Los Angeles Lakers in a best of seven series, Joseph did what was asked of him and wasn't given anything. He earned his time out there, especially when he was seen as the guy least to win the backup point spot.
Joseph has not only earned the spot, but he's also going far and beyond what has been asked of any point guard in recent Spurs history. Cory scored 4 points (2-4 shooting) in 11 minutes, but the box score didn't do justice to his contributions in that game. The 6'3" Joseph did what was asked of him, even if it meant trying to defend a 6'9" power forward in Antawn Jamison.
When Joseph wasn't battling in the paint against a guy 6 inches taller than him, he was keeping the offense in control throughout the game when he was on the court. His game as a whole is full of intangibles that we may have not seen from those behind him at the backup position, including the taller point guards he has beaten out for the position.
For this being Joseph's first playoff series and having a big role in it too, he's definitely been impressing everyone watching. He's not only impressed, but he's also earned every minute he was out there and will be out there going forward.
What do you think Spurs fans? Has Cory Joseph earned the backup point guard spot or should another player take the spot?