The San Antonio Spurs NBA Summer League Preview

As I mentioned, I will be in Las Vegas for the whole thing. Expect a flurry of activity in this here space. Who's going? Why should you care? What to expect? When are the games? Hop your bad self on in and take a peek.

Who's going?

As of right now, I expect the following players to be participating in the NBA Summer League for the Spurs.

Other possible participants:

Why Should You Care?

Free agency starts next Wednesday, and that will have a big effect on the Spurs roster, but as of right now the Spurs only have 8 guys under contract. Michael Finley has yet to exercise his player option and Marcus William's contract is not guaranteed. So the Spurs have up to 7 spots available right now. Compare this with last year, when the Spurs entered the Summer League with 14 guys under contract. There is a LOT of opportunity right now.

What to expect?

Team-wise, this should be a fairly strong Summer League entry by the Spurs. George has a season under his belt, Ian has been in the system, this is the second Summer League for Gist and Hairston, and the third for Williams. But, the Summer League isn't about team success. It is about evaluating players. If I was Gregg Popovich, this is what I would want to see from each player:

  • George Hill - George is already under contract. He's not playing for a roster spot. I think George has one task and one task only. Run the point effectively. The Spurs are counting on him to be the back up point guard this year. He needs to prove he's ready for it the ballhandling aspects of it. We know he can play defense and we know he can contribute off the ball. But, can he run the team? He had very mixed success last year in this endeavor and he will need the work in Summer League. I want to see him run the break. I want to see him get the team into sets. But, most importantly, I want to see him handle the pressure. Opposing point guards caused him problems last year when the bodied him up at halfcourt. He needs to learn to not be passive. I'd also like to see him show improvement in finishing around the rim. As Stampler said several times last year, he makes his layups more difficult than they need to be. I expect him to get 30-32 minutes/game (It's a 40 minute game) running the show.
  • Ian Mahinmi - Ian is also under contract and is not playing for a roster spot. I want to see something, anything. Make some shots. Bang in the paint. Grab some boards. Run the court. I'd just want to see him play and get some rhythm. I wouldn't need to see him dominate, but I would need to see him compete on an even level and not look lost. I expect the team will try to run a significant amount of the offense through Ian in the blocks. While Ian isn't playing for a roster spot, I think he is playing for the $2.4 million on his 2011 team option. I think they have to make the decision before the season starts and I don't think it is a gimme at this point. He needs to make it a gimme. That $2.4 million will go a long way toward signing Tiago next summer. Oh yeah, I also want to see him stay healthy.
  • Marcus Williams - Marcus IS playing for money. He has a non-guaranteed contract for this year and I'm sure the Spurs front office will have an eagle-eye on Marcus. I think he carries the biggest burden on the team. He'll be expected to be the playmaker from the wing creating for others, knocking down shots, and playing some serious defense. Having George around will help him because the offense should flow fairly well. I have no sense for what he can do at this level and I am eager to watch him play again. Last time I saw him was early in the 07-08 Toros season.
  • James Gist - Another guy playing for a roster spot. If not with the Spurs, then somebody else in the NBA. He needs to play defense, show the ability to rebound using position, and knock down open shots. The man is a great athlete. The team knows he can dunk, run, and leap. He needs to show that he has rounded out his game and improved his fundamentals. His straight up man-to-man defense will be very important because I think they will try to see what he can do with 3's and 4's.
  • DeJuan Blair - Be a bully. I know that's what I want to see him do. Be a bully in the paint without committing stupid fouls. Don't be a Danny Fortson, be a Jason Maxiell. I would also like to see his all around game. Does he pass? What's his shot like from 10 feet? Can he move laterally?
  • Jack McClinton - Can he get off his shot against a motivated defender and will he work his butt off on defense? He doesn't have the freak-ish arms that George has that allows him to play the off guard defensively so Jack is going to have to prove he will work harder than everybody on that end.
  • Eric Dawson - Another guy who is going to have to show he can bang. He's a big man and he will need to show he can be a bully in the paint. He'll also need to hit the 15 footer and prove he can defend mobile 4's.
  • Malik Hairston - I think Malik has a decent chance to claim the Ime role. The wing defender who handles the more powerful 3's like Artest and Anthony. To get that role, he needs to prove he can defend. Duh. But, he also needs to show he can hit the open jumper. He's already proven to me that he has what Ime didn't have. The ability to finish. Ime didn't have that explosion around the rim. Malik has that.
  • Nando De Colo - I really doubt he'll be over, but it is possible. I think the Spurs would have to sign him to a guaranteed contract for the season to get him to play in the Summer League. I'd think if he was that interested in coming over AND that good he would have been drafted higher. What do I know? I'd love to see him though.

I think the Spurs would be ecstatic if they could get 3 players, not counting George and Ian, out of the Summer League team. It's possible they get more, but I have my doubts.

When are the games?

The Summer League starts Friday, July 10th. However, the Spurs don't play their first game until Sunday, July 12th. The Spurs schedule is (all times Spurs time):

You can view the entire schedule here. You should be able to watch every Summer League game on NBA.com. They should be streaming them all.

Scott from Ridiculous Upside has a post up beginning to compile the rosters.

I had hoped to have groundbreaking technological experience for you guys, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen. I'm not sure yet how I'll be covering the games. I might be blogging, I might be taking notes, I might watch all the games by everybody, I don't know. What I do know is that I'll be posting a lot?

For you Twitter hounds out there, we are at @poundingtherock http://twitter.com/poundingtherock

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