Via: SS&E

New Austin Spurs: Nick Johnson and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Perhaps no NBA franchise has used the D-League better than the San Antonio Spurs. The modus operandi of the Spurs usage of the Austin-based affiliate is more fluid than any draft-and-stash scheme. The Spurs leverage the D-League to allow players to get professional minutes with a mindset of growing that talent, versus allowing them to languish at the end of a stacked NBA bench (i.e. Ray McCallum).

Instead the Spurs are active in the D-League, and there is no more exciting time to be a member of the Austin Spurs than now. On December 29, 2015 they will play in the AT&T Center for the first time.

Additionally, the Austin Spurs have acquired Nick Johnson from the Houston Rockets. The former 42nd overall pick in the 2014 Draft played in 28 games for the Rockets last year, and averaged 2.6 points. Johnson comes to the Spurs franchise with some serious credentials. He is a former Pac-12 Player of the Year, First-Team All-Pac-12 and was selected to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team. His acquisition now makes the Austin Spurs guard depth a real factor for the D-League, pushing the roster to seven guards. For the San Antonio Spurs, it provides yet another point guard with NBA experience to the coach Gregg Popovich’s pool.

Also, the Atlanta Hawks have assigned Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Austin Spurs. Hardaway is best known for his short term success for the New York Knicks during the past two seasons, yet he hasn’t taken to the Mike Budenholzer offense in Atlanta. His production dropped from 11.5 points per game for New York, to just 2.5 in limited action for Atlanta, on 23% shooting. “I can promise you he is doing well and he is in a good place,” said coach Mike Budenholzer, via “A lot of it has been his approach to it. He’s been very professional. There is a real emphasis on player development with us and we’ve seen guys who have come in and maybe not started out gangbusters but through work, time and effort they find a way. I was say he is following that path in a very good way.”

The Spurs continue to maximize their relationship with their D-League affiliate in Austin. Fans should pay attention to the roster for the Austin Spurs, as they will surely see several of those players donning NBA jerseys in the years to come.