If you watch the San Antonio Spurs and their offense, then you not only just became a good friend of mine, but you probably appreciate team basketball. It may not have been the real team out there this summer in Las Vegas, but they sure did do their best to imitate them. For a video breakdown of the offense of that particular team, there’s a lovely YouTuber who does it for you. However, I am going to analyze how it all looks as whole.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you by telling you that I watched all the Summer League games for the Spurs. I wasn’t fortunate to have NBA TV at the time, so those games went unseen for me. What I will tell you is that I have been watching the Spurs for a decade-plus and what Coach Daniel has to say in his breakdown of the Milwaukee game is spot-on. They run a pretty smooth offense that doesn’t necessarily always end in a basket or even a good shot, but more often than not something good happens.
The Spurs also use the summer as an opportunity to teach their new initiates the system, so they can be ready to contribute right away. Guys like Bryce Cotton and Kyle Anderson will surely get their chance at training camp to make an impressions on the Spurs’ staff. It’s very much unlike the Houston Rockets who use this time as a highly experimental stage in their tinkering and retooling of their basketball philosophies. They try out things in the Summer League and with their D-League affiliate, just to see what might work with the Rockets, but ultimately it’s Daryl Morey’s decision on if it’s implemented. In that regard, he is very similar to R.C. Buford in that they both watch all their affiliated teams closely and make that last decision on what to do with them.
And the summer is the perfect time to do that. If fringe professional NBA players can run the offense, then not only is it simple enough for them to grasp, but it’s also efficient enough to work on all levels. That is precisely why Gregg Popovich implements it for his team and it probably doesn’t hurt that he has a lot of selfless guys to pass around the rock, to find the best shots, rather than “just good” shots in an offense. Surely the Spurs hope to impart upon all those who play for them at some level and in some capacity, the idea that you should always be looking for a better shot than the one just given up, but also be willing to take that shot and recognize it’s yours to take (when appropriate).
Just know that summer time is by no means the most exciting basketball you’ll watch, but it definitely gives a nice glimpse into the future of what you can expect from some teams. That’s why the Spurs in summer league tend to do well and why teams like the 76ers tend to do poorly (despite their Orlando League championship). It’s not a time to be overlooked, especially if you’re a team trying to win and do it in the near future.