What to Expect From The Spurs In The Summer League This Year

what to expect from dominick barlow and the san antonio spurs this summer league
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs have pretty much already won the offseason by drafting Victor Wembanyama. But surely fans and media members won’t be satisfied with just that and would like to see something from him and the other Spurs fortunate enough to be playing on the Summer League team. Here’s a short primer of what you can expect from the team as a whole and some specific individuals who have a clear future with this team. We obviously have to cover the biggest topic, which is how much of Wembanyama we should see.

Spurs In The Summer League

The Team

This team could compete for a Summer League title, but that may also depend on how many Wembanyama minutes occur over the course of the 10 days. They have some guys with real NBA experience on this roster in Dominick Barlow, Julian Champagnie, Blake Wesley, and Malaki Branham. If those guys play with the confidence of legitimate NBA players in this setting, then the Spurs and fans have to feel good about their chances of nabbing a ring.

While Barlow and Champagnie have shined in their lone game so far, expect Wesley and Branham to have some breakout moments. With the exception of Wembanyama, everyone else on the roster is here for the coaches and possibly other teams to get a good look at and see if they may want to sign them after Summer League finishes. Keep an eye on Charles Bediako a she was signed to a one-year deal and is another big man the team is throwing into the front court mix.

Victor Wembanyama

It’s already been announced that the French phenom won’t participate in the California Classic, but will rejoin the team for the Las Vegas Summer League. He likely won’t play in every game or he will be limited in minutes. That’s not any fault of his own or is a reflection of what the front office thinks of him. It is purely precautionary as he’s coming off his own season recently and the Spurs don’t want to work him too hard before the real season starts.

Ideally, he’ll show everyone what he can do against some NBA talent in the minutes he gets and we get the glimpses we’ve been hoping for all along. The shooting from deep is something to look for as well as his potential post-up game as that has been a perceived weakness of his since he is so thin. If he can hold his own on defense and show that he can create for himself and others in the post, then that may be all the coaches need to see. In short, don’t expect Victor to play too many games or minutes unless he’s looking rusty for some reason.

Dominick Barlow

The second-year player is already showing what a year in the G-League and some NBA minutes can do for someone’s confidence. In his first Summer League game, Barlow was phenomenal. He showed off his versatility on defense and even showed off his mid-range jumper. He was 10-13 shooting for 24 points and recorded 11 rebounds with two blocks. We can certainly expect Barlow to continue playing with confidence and be a consistent contributor as someone who already has experience with the team and its coaches.

It would be nice to see if Barlow ever feels comfortable extending his shooting out to the three-point line. If he took even just a handful of those shots over the course of the Las Vegas session, that would go a long way. He will need to continue his focus on defense and if he clamps down some of these other high draft picks like he did Brandon Miller, he is going to be a major target for a re-up on his contract.

Julian Champagnie

Can Champagnie just play every game like it’s Summer League against the Hornets? That would be great. He was fantastic in that game, going for 30 points and doing a little bit of everything while not giving up a turnover. Once he plays against a real Summer League team, we will see if a performance like this can be repeated. The Hornets were particularly atrocious and it’s hard to believe many other teams will play similarly to that.

The former St. John’s star also saw some action with the NBA Spurs last season and seemed to find his groove late in the season. The hope is he can continue to shoot well and be a shot maker and creator for this summer team. He shouldn’t have to carry a whole of the offensive load once Wembanyama joins the mix as he will command quite a bit of attention and should open up other guys for easier shots. If Champagnie can accept not being the first option — a reality that will face him in the NBA regular season — and still be efficient, you have to think the coaches will love seeing that.

Cidy Cissoko

Cissoko was not a surprise at all to get drafted by the Spurs at 44. The surprise was him falling that far. Now he gets the chance to prove why the Spurs are right to have taken him and while he didn’t put up a lot of counting stats in the first Summer League game, he did prove he can play. He impacted the game on defense and that will be his calling card early on in his career.

The focal point for him will be to work on his offense and where that comes from when he is on the floor. While his defense is nice and he can guard multiple positions, not being negative on the offensive end will be what keeps him on the floor. He averaged over three assists a game in the G-League season so if he can show some of that passing in this scenario, that will be a big win for the second-round pick.

Blake Wesley

The second year Spurs guard will have his work cut out for him this summer league. He had a solid first game against the Hornets, but still struggled to shoot. He was a nice three-point shooter in his 37 NBA games (over 38% from deep), but struggled everywhere else. Consistency will be key for Wesley as he has to prove he can finish around the rim and consistently hit from mid-range if he’s going to shoot it.

However, Wesley found other ways to impact that game as he recorded six boards, dished out eight assists, and has three steals. The biggest issue was his seven turnovers though. As someone who’s seen NBA action and even got a start, he has to be better at taking care of the ball and not giving it away so often. That was a bit of an issue last season as well, but with opportunity to play more point guard or have the ball in his hands more often, Wesley has to prove that he can run or hold together an offense without risking so many turnovers.

Malaki Branham

Branham did not play in that first game against Charlotte, presumably because he is much more solidified in his role with the team. He played in 66 games and got 32 starts so the team clearly likes him. He may be there more for moral support than anything else, but the former Buckeye could work on a couple things if he finds himself in the game.

While his overall shooting was pretty good, he could stand to improve his three-point shooting as he shot under 31% from there last season. If he shows that aspect of his game has improved, the Spurs may actually shut him down so they can see what other players can give them throughout the week-plus of games. Branham is somewhat polished and has shown he can be a good player when other guys go down, but now he will get a chance to be a legitimate role player for the Spurs next season.


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