When Tony Parker got hurt, San Antonio Spurs fans the drop off without Parker's contributions were going be extremely high.
He's been an MVP candidate this season and his contributions aren't easy to come by. When the injury happened, there was talk about who would start in his place. Most of the candidates discussed around the internet or among Spurs fans were Patty Mills, Nando De Colo, and a returning Gary Neal from injury.
Gregg Popovich went with a different direction that has been paying off. He chose to go with Cory Joseph from the Austin Toros and Pop has seen some improvements from Joseph this time around.
"He's just solid. He gives us solid minutes. He plays good 'D'. He's scrappy and aggressive and he's doing what we asked him to do," said Popovich after the home win over the Thunder.
The Spurs' system is paying dividends and it's proving its worth right now.
When a team can lose its best player and insert a D-League player in his place and still not miss a beat, there's a reason why the Spurs are admired around the league. There's not much being asked of Joseph like there is from Parker. The offense doesn't go through Joseph and all the team is asking him to do is exactly what Pop mentioned.
He's playing solid defense on his counterparts. The opposing point guards are averaging 17.8ppg (35-83 shooting), but don't let that statistic fool you.
Those stats are inflated with performances from Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, who are stars on their teams for a reason. Joseph's managing the game has made it easy for the Spurs bench to come in and contribute without much pressure to come back from behind. His defense and hustle has also helped the big men from the Spurs not focus too much on help defense either.
The Spurs acquiring the Austin Toros and running the same system is paying off and other teams will be sure to follow the same path with Joseph being a prime example on why they should do exactly that.