Spurs defeat Kings in Summer League opener

No player played more than 30 minutes, five players scored in double-figures, and a group that has never played a Summer League game together only tallied 10 turnovers, as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Sacramento Kings 85-69.

Though the Kings led in the first half, it was rookie Bryce Cotton who began leading the charge in the third quarter, by scoring 10 of his 12 points in the quarter. From there, the Spurs outscored the Kings 30-11 in the quarter, and eventually in the second half 50-24.

Spurs veteran Austin Daye was one of the featured players on offense, as he took 18 shots, the most on the team, to finish with 14 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Like the other Spurs veteran Jeff Ayres, the two had trouble staying out of foul trouble, as Ayres finished with six fouls, and Daye five fouls.

Marcus Denmon finished with 11 points and five assists, while Deshaun Thomas added nine points. Melvin Ejim and Darius Morris both contributed with 12 points off the bench apiece. Before anyone asks, Ryan Richards did not play in the game, as was the case for a few other players on the Spurs’ roster.

Throughout the game, I was specifically focused on monitoring rookie Kyle Anderson and Cotton’s individual games on both sides of the floor.  Below were some of my observations.

Kyle Anderson Observation

Overall: Anderson finished with six points, six assists, four rebounds, and one steal in roughly 26 minutes of play. Anderson shot 3-of-7 from the floor, and accounted for half of the Spurs’ team assists (6 of 12 total assists).

Offensive observation: From what was observed, being able to make solid passes doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem for Anderson. He played the one, two, and three at different times, and he looked comfortable running pick-and-rolls. He made two jumpers off screens, and he looked patient when defenders would hedge hard on him off pick-and-rolls. He set up his teammates whether he drove into the paint, or if someone set up a pick-and-pop opportunity for him.

In the third, he ran some sets as the point guard, and one element you could see was his inability to beat his defenders off the dribble due to his lack of explosiveness. However, when he knew he couldn’t beat his man off the dribble, he quickly used a screen to create separation and find an opening to either pass or score.

Defensive observation: Defending shooting guards that play off the ball like Nik Stauskas, who run off screens and plays off the ball seemed to be an issue for Anderson, as he had trouble fighting through screens and keeping a hand in front of those guards.

Bryce Cotton Observation

Overall: In 16 minutes off the bench, Cotton scored 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting, and he made 5-of-5 free throws, while turning the ball over twice.

Offensive Observation: He ran the point guard in most of his minutes, but did play a few possessions at the two. He had a quick release on his jumpers, and earned an and-1 opportunity off one of his jump shots. His form was solid on his jumper, as he jumped off two feet before getting into the air. Early on in the first half, he looked a little lost on offense, almost like he didn’t know where he was supposed to be, but in the second half, he was more aggressive and scored 10 points in the third quarter. He earned the most free throw shots of any Spurs player. Due to his height and frame, it looked like he had trouble creating on his own early on, and he also had to give the ball away when defenders would hedge hard on pick-and-roll plays.

Defensive Observation: One element of Cotton’s game that can’t be measured by stats is that he hustles when he’s on the floor. He struggles to get around screens on defense, but he works his tail off to quickly recover onto his man as best he can. He also showed quick footwork when guarding his man one-on-one and beating his opponent to the next spot on the floor. When a player tried to take him off the dribble, Cotton was able to stay in front of them. Trying to play defense off the ball will be Cotton’s toughest battle, as he tries to get around screens.

The Spurs’ Summer League squad will play their second game on Sunday against Andrew Wiggins and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 1 PM CST on NBATV.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.