The San Antonio Spurs’ Summer League roster features a mix of former draft picks, current Spurs, and a hodgepodge group of young guys looking to make a splash. There are international players, USA-born players, and USA-born players playing internationally. Now the question is, who has the most to prove and who will step up in Summer League play?
The entire roster can be viewed here.
5. Vander Blue – Blue, a 6’4” shooting guard out of Marquette, bounced around the NBA and D-League last season. When “bounced around” is used, it’s almost used lightly. Blue had around 200 teammates last season, on eight different teams (including overseas) in just his first season as a professional basketball player. Blue isn’t going to make the San Antonio Spurs roster. However, if he wants to stick a landing spot for more than a camp or ten days, Blue must impress in the Vegas Summer League and show his talents as the athletic competitor that he displayed in college.
4. Ryan Richards – The Spurs 49th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft will make his third appearance on the Summer League roster. The 23-year old Englishman has Spurs fans hopeful and disappointed. Fans always have an eye on the big man, and it’s hard not to, as he has the demeanor of a legit NBA player. Richards has mixed results overseas, most recently completing a season with Ikaros Chalkidas B.C. in Greece, where he averaged 9.5 points per game. However, all three of his shooting stats (FG%, 3PT%, and FT%) dropped significantly from his time at BC Zeptar Vienna just a season before, where he was successful. Last season in the Summer League, Richards only averaged seven minutes, but shot and score efficiently (5.5 points on 52% shooting). When Richard plays, he just oozes potential, but just can’t seem to put it all together or stick with a team. He is still young, but he ever has hopes of making the NBA as a stretch four or five, this could be one of his last chances to get his mind right and turn his potential into results.
3. Kyle Anderson – As I wrote on Monday, Kyle Anderson is a player is positional limbo. The Spurs feel the same way, and are eager to show off his versatility:
“I spoke to Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich) the day after the draft,” said Anderson. “He told me he wanted to see me play the one a little bit, play the two, (and) play the three. Just figure out where I’m most comfortable.”
Drafted with the 30th overall pick in the most recent NBA Draft, Anderson is nearly a lock to sign his rookie contract and make the Spurs opening day roster. His pressure to perform comes from showing off where he can play, and more importantly where he can defend, to keep on as a Spur rather than a Toro. As of now, Anderson seems like a perfect fit to this version of the San Antonio Spurs. He needs to go out and show he is a top three player on the court to solidify his expectations.
2. Deshaun Thomas – The 58th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has been busy polishing his game overseas. Thomas will be making his second consecutive appearance on the Summer League roster. Last season, Thomas was one of the better players on the court, averaging 12 points, five rebounds, and shot 37% from downtown. A star at Ohio State, Thomas slipped in the draft due to a lack of positional identity. With Kyle Anderson in tow as a potential backup small forward, and a lack of roster spots remaining, Thomas is unlikely to make the roster this year. However, if Thomas shows improvement in his rebounding and defending the three, aspects the Spurs asked him to work on, Thomas could be on the right trajectory to eventually make the jump to the NBA.
1. Bryce Cotton – When Patty Mills underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month, the door was opened, potentially, for a third point guard to make the roster. The last time the Spurs roster didn’t carry three point guards was 2009-2010, when they settled for Roger Mason and Manu Ginobili handling the ball behind Tony Parker and George Hill. The Mason experiment didn’t work out so well, and Ginobili missed that postseason. The need is there while Mills is out, and Bryce Cotton is being given that golden opportunity. Cotton signed a two-year, partially guaranteed deal that, reportedly, becomes fully guaranteed if he makes the roster out of training camp. If that’s not enough motivation, I’m not so sure what is. Cotton will begin his quest to prove himself in Summer League. Touted as a scoring guard, who has the ability to make some plays with passing, Cotton is just eager to get on the court and play:
“I just want to show them that I’m a quick learner, and I can adapt to any environment,” said Cotton. “Whatever role they give me and expect me to do, that’s what I intend to carry out.”
Marcus Denmon, Austin Daye, and Jeff Ayres will also be familiar names to watch out on the court. Daye and Ayres are current members of the roster and will provide veteran leadership. Denmon will appear in his third straight Summer League, but just doesn’t seem like an NBA player due to his height and playmaking abilities.
The Las Vegas Summer League opens for the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, July 11th at 9:00 CST against the Sacramento Kings. The rest of the Spurs schedule consists of games against the Cavaliers (July 13th, 3:00 CST) and the Pelicans (July 14th, 5:30 CST).