There was no such thing as a Summer League hangover for the San Antonio Spurs, as Tuesday night ended in a 103-81 route of the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite missing rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV, who sat out Tuesday’s contest to rest, the Spurs managed to find their offensive stroke against the Hawks.
As a team, the Spurs shot 51.4 percent from the field and nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc. The Spurs also managed to win the rebounding and assists battle, despite committing 17 turnovers on the night.
San Antonio is now 1-1 in the Utah Summer League with one more game remaining before heading off to Las Vegas. They will face off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, July 5th.
Here are some observations from Tuesday night’s victory:
Without Walker as his backcourt mate, it was up to Derrick White to run the show for San Antonio.
White tallied 15 points in the first quarter to finish with 21 points for the game. He also finished with six rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks.
Overall, White was extremely impressive. As the only pure scorer on the floor, White was able to pick out when to push the tempo, when to run in transition, and he executed well in the halfcourt.
Even contested shots that would drive any coach insane were falling with ease as White used his athleticism to leap over defenders and create enough space to get shots off with his quick release.
With another solid Summer League performance, White could be recalled to San Antonio soon. The risk of injury in Summer League isn’t worth having White dominate against players who could use the time to showcase their abilities for other teams and opportunities.
Plus White returning to the Spurs would give him more 1-on-1 time with coaches and trainers that could help him crack the opening night roster.
Walker’s absence allowed for a little more of an Austin Spurs takeover against the Hawks, which gave Jaron Blossomgame his first chance to shine.
The second year forward out of Clemson logged a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
While Blossomgame struggled with his shot at times, he showed off his ability to slash and penetrate through the defense with and without the ball, earning a few easy buckets.
Though his progression is evident, Blossomgame still has a ways to go before securing a roster spot. He’ll need to prove he can be serviceable on offense and defense at both the 3 and 4 positions to increase his value. He also needs to finish in transition more efficiently and prove he can knock down outside shots.
There is a glut of redundant talent at the center spot for the Spurs, and trying to determine who has the upper hand is proving to be exceedingly difficult.
Amida Brimah, Cory Jefferson, Chimezie Metu and Raphiael Putney are all athletic bigs that can score and protect the rim, but none of them have a complete skillset to warrant consideration for a full-time center.
Brimah and Metu are still slightly raw offensively, but Metu’s shooting touch and offensive ability shows the sky is the limit for him. Meanwhile, Brimah’s ability to protect the rim has been well documented in the G-League and so far in Summer League.
Putney and Jefferson continue to prove you’re never too old to develop new aspects to your game.
The 28-year-old Putney has shown an elite shooting touch to go with his wildly athletic frame as he soars for steals and dunks reminiscent of a young Kawhi Leonard.
On the other hand, the 27-year-old Jefferson, who struggled to develop a shot during his time in the G-League, has suddenly become a stretch-4 and even spent some time playing the 3 position in Tuesday’s contest.
If Jefferson and Putney can continue to score from the outside and prove they can handle playing multiple positions, then both would be worthy for an extended look in training camp.