LAS VEGAS — Two things stood out for the San Antonio Spurs Summer League team in their debut, a 69-68 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. The guys with NBA experience look good. The guys who aren't have some room to improve, even though one rookie in particular looked extremely comfortable. Neither of these things are surprising, and guys needing improvement isn't exactly a bad thing.
One positive, perhaps the positive, of the game is that Cory Joseph was extra aggressive and extra affective getting his own shot, especially at the rim. He finished with 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He also hit the game winner with under five seconds to play after the Bobcats briefly took the lead on a Jeff Taylor three-pointer. The most impressive part of Joseph's game was often times he was finishing against either Bismack Biyombo or Cody Zeller, two NBA rotation big men at worst (Biyombo already an upper echelon shot blocker).
While Joseph was the primary ball handler when he was on the floor, Nando De Colo spent much of his time working off the ball, coming around screens looking for his own shot. It's just one game, but you have to wonder if the spending so much time off the ball could signal a sea change with De Colo's role on the team. Or it could just mean the Spurs would like to see how he plays working off the ball. He looked good, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists.
2nd round draft pick Deshaun Thomas also started for the Summer League Spurs and was aggressive in looking for his own shot from anywhere on the court. He started off missing his first three shots but then sank his next three. The question on draft night was whether Thomas would be a 3 or 4 in the league. He started and played much of the game as the "stretch 4," finishing with 18 points on 7/13 shooting. While playing the four helped his offensive game, he looked overwhelmed on defense at times. Whether he sees more time on the wing as the week carries on.
Ryan Richards was the first big man off the bench and he was solid but unspectacular. He sank his first, which was an off balance jumper with the shot clock winding down. He missed his next four attempts, but shot with confidence and good form. His most impressive play came in the second quarter when he faked a corner jumper, drove to the lane and dished it off to a diving Aron Baynes. His mobility also showed on help defense, where he was able to sag off Bismack Biyombo and recover in time to prevent him from diving to the basket.
The Spurs next game is Sunday against the Toronto Raptors at 9:30 PM. Central time.