With San Antonio Spurs ‘veterans’ Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo, and Aron Baynes sitting out the Spurs’ final Summer League game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, there were opportunities for the remaining players on roster to leave lasting impressions for not just Spurs coaches, but other NBA coaches, scouts, and agents as well.
Hollis Thompson (21 points) and Ryan Richards (18 points) shined in the Spurs’ 90-80 victory over the Bucks, while Summer League standout Deshaun Thomas struggled to find his rhythm in back-to-back games and Marcus Denmon also cooled off after his 19-point performance Thursday.
Thompson had it going from the tip as he poured in 15 first half points to lead the Spurs. Not only did he show his versatility in scoring the basketball: catch-and-shoot ability from deep, driving to the lane and drawing contact, cutting effectively without the basketball, hitting mid-range jumpers on 8-of-12 shooting from the field including 2-of-2 from three. But Thompson also showed his ability to play both his natural small forward position and he also played productive minutes at shooting guard in his time on the floor.
Thompson leaves Vegas averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 46% from 3-point range. After his five game performances, it would be surprising if he were not on an NBA roster when the season begins in October. He showed the ability to stay productive both as rotation player or as a player running the offense in his time in Vegas.
For Richards, a player who was buried on the bench for a majority of the Spurs’ Summer League games, he showed what he could do offensively in his final stint as he poured in 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting including going 2-of-2 from 3-pointer range in roughly 16 minutes. Richards was an issue in the low block for the Bucks’ defense as he used his strong physical build to post his defenders, get in a comfort zone in the paint, and score with an array of floaters, turnaround jumpers, and shots in the paint.
Thomas finished with just 6 points on 3-of-9 shooting and finally got a few minutes playing the small forward position. His time on the wing was similar to his statistical production as he could never get in a what looked like a comfortable scoring zone and on several occasions the speed of the other perimeter players was too quick for him defensively as they beat him to the hole wide open on a few occasions.
Despite his back-to-back struggling performances, Thomas will leave Vegas as the Spurs’ leading scorer averaging 12.4 points and 5 rebounds per game while his shooting percentages dipped to 41% from the field and 38% from 3-point range.
Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford recently said “a lot of things will need to go well for him to maximize his opportunity” before Thomas’ last two games and after his final two Vegas performances, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to Thomas when the decision comes for training camp invites.
Denmon also showed his versatility Friday as he ran the point guard for extended minutes, but he struggled to find a consistent rhythm as he finished with 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting. He did however grab 8 rebounds and pass for 5 assists. Denmon finished averaging 10.8 points and 2.8 assists while shooting 39% from both the field and 3-point range.
Another notable productive player in Summer League was Dexter Pittman. In the first half Friday, he scored all of his 10 points while he didn’t receive many minutes in the second half. Overall in five games, Pittman averaged 7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in just 15 minutes per game. Since the Spurs already have six post players on roster, it’s highly unlikely Pittman will earn the 15th roster spot, but it’s clear he could be a solid rotation pick-up for another NBA team.
Though the Spurs didn’t advance in the new tournament play, young coach Ime Udoka and his team managed to finish with a winning record of 3-2. The team leaves Vegas with very ‘Spurs’ type numbers as the ‘team’ concept was evident in Vegas as six players finished averaging double figures in scoring (Thomas 12.4 points, Baynes 12 points, De Colo 11.3 points, Denmon 10.8 points, Joseph 10.3 points, Thompson 10.2 points).