San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph has had quite the journey since being drafted out of the University of Texas with the 29th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.
He left Austin for San Antonio, just to go back to Austin a few more times to get some much needed time developing with the Austin Toros.
Then, towards the end of last season and entering the postseason, Joseph started earning valuable backup minutes and unseated Nando De Colo as Tony Parker’s primary backup.
After an outstanding postseason, one in which he had even Jeff Van Gundy raving about him, and a standout performance in Summer League, Joseph will have his work cut out for him trying to earn minutes in the Spurs’ rotation with a guard-heavy roster. That roster becomes even more guard-heavy if Gary Neal is brought back, something Joseph says he would like to happen, regardless of the competition.
“I’m watching it pretty close,” Joseph said of teammate Gary Neal, a restricted free agent who remains unsigned. “Gary is one of my close friends on the team. Hopefully he comes back. We hope we get him. That’s all I really want because Gary is a big piece of our team.”
While Neal could still come back, filling the Spurs’ last roster spot, the signing of Marco Belinelli could also mean the end of Neal’s run in San Antonio, and while that eliminates some competition for Joseph, training camp should be interesting with De Colo, Joseph and Patty Mills all battling for minutes.
“I feel like I’ve come a far way, but I know there’s still far to come, so I just keep on working countless hours at the gym because I know that’s what it takes,” Joseph said. “I don’t want to feel comfortable. The backup point guard spot, in my mind, is still open. We have a lot of great point guards on our team, so I’ve still got to prove myself.”
After outshining De Colo during Summer League, Joseph likely has the best chance of becoming Tony Parker’s backup, but the Spurs have brought in players on the eve of training camp over the past few years and if the Spurs have any second thoughts about Joseph running the second unit, they could look for a veteran guard at the minimum. Joseph’s work in the gym and over the Summer though likely shows the Spurs brass that he knows what he has to do to solidify his spot.
Whatever the case, it's likely a safe bet that Joseph will only be back in Austin next season to watch UT basketball games.