LAS VEGAS — Normally, Summer League is a little man's game. Point guards often times are MVP when the 10 day circuit is over and these days the teams aren't even using two traditional big men at the same time. The Spurs-Raptors game featured Jonas Valanciunas, the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Valanciunas is probably the biggest guy at Summer League one of the few able to dominate in the paint. The Lithuanian big man scored 23 points in the Raptors' first game against the Miami Heat. That meant the pressure was going to be on Aron Baynes to limit Valanciunas' scoring.
Valanciunas finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but the numbers are deceiving. Aron Baynes, with a little bit of Dexter Pittman sprinkled in, held Valanciunas to 4-12 shooting and a lot of his free throws came at the end of when the Spurs were forced to start fouling to keep the game close. Baynes did his fair share of damage on Valanciunas as well, scoring 11 points and pulling down nine rebounds. After the game, Ime Udoka, who was less than pleased with the Spurs overall performance Sunday, said he was pleased with Baynes' defense.
"He made him take some tough shots. He shot 4-12, Valanciunas, most of those four were tough shots," Udoka said. "He got a lot of free throws late so we don’t count that, but solid overall ."
Udoka added that the Spurs would like to see Baynes get in better position on offense, which shows the Spurs see Baynes as more than just a back up big that can give six fouls to opposing bigs.
Pittman embracing his opportunity with the Spurs
The first big man off the bench for the Spurs was former Texas Longhorn big man Dexter Pittman. After spending most of his first three seasons in the league with the Miami Heat, Pittman ended his season in Memphis (there was also some D-League runs during those seasons). Now, without a team or a contract Pittman is trying to earn a roster spot with the Spurs. After Sunday's loss he said he's embracing the challenge of battling for the Spurs' final roster spot.
"Competition wise it’s a great opportunity and also you’re out here playing in front of all the GMs and all the executives and guys running the teams so it’s fun," Pittman said.
Pittman's time with the Spurs got off to an auspicious start. He suffered a concussion during one of the team's first practices, which forced him to miss Friday night's win over the Charlotte Bobcats. It seems unlikely he'll take the 15th spot on the Spurs roster, but Udoka said Pittman is definitely talented enough to stick with a team.
"He’s got talent, nice offensive moves inside," Udoka said. "He didn’t play his best tonight, but overall, I’ve seen a lot worse in the league so he can definitely make it.”
Pittman did win an NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2012. He said he has a championship ring but doesn't show it to anyone.
"Hopefully later in my career I can actually play and get one, contribute and get one," Pittman said.