Leading this year’s Spurs’ squad will once again be assistant coach Jacque Vaughn who will serve as head coach for the second time in Vegas.
Players such as Cory Joseph, Kawhi Leonard, James Anderson, Eric Dawson and the newest Spur, Marcus Denmon, will look to hone their basketball skills in front of the coaches, fans, and prove they got what it takes to be in the NBA.
“It’s a fun time of the year. Guys get to improve in the offseason. So it’s a good time to bond with them young guys and make them better. It’s a good time of the year,” said Vaughn.
The focus of improvement may lay heavily on Joseph, and Anderson. Joseph had an up-and-down rookie season where he saw him go from the NBA, D-League, to being buried on the bench. For Anderson, he came in with high expectations from the fans, only to see his minutes vanish and find himself on the end of the bench.
But for coach Vaughn, he feels the Summer league is simply a chance for the young players to shine without any expectations.
“For us, we’re just going to give them a chance to play. No expectations,” said Vaughn. “We want to see improvement and that’s a great part of it. We’ll put them in a position to make plays.”
Vaughn pointed out how similar the Summer League schedule mirrors that of the NBA which will lend to the player’s development as a pro in the league.
“We’re having two-a-days right now. The guys get to beat up on each other a little bit, so they’ll be looking forward to playing games. It’s a good test for them. You got back-to-back (games). It’s a good simulation to the season,” said Vaughn.
This year’s Summer League is the first in two years considering last season’s was canceled due to the NBA lockout, and Vaughn stressed how important it is.
“I think Summer League is so important. You get a chance to play against competition. You can see the things we been working on actually work,” said Vaughn. “Summer League was definitely missed for guys last year and I’m glad we can take advantage of it this year.”
And though the Summer League are for NBA rookies and players on the cusp of latching on with a team, that isn’t the case for Leonard. Leonard is listed on the Spurs summer league roster and has been in Vegas with the U.S. Select Team practicing against Team U.S.A. but despite a solid rookie season, Vaughn is looking for the second year pro to improve.
“Well, the practices won’t be as competitive as those Olympic practices he’s been a part of. It gives him a chance to hone his skills. He’s a gifted young man and he gets a chance in Summer League to expand his game a little bit and it will be good for him.”
The Spurs will face the Hawks this Sunday for their first game at the Vegas Summer League.