The evolution of Kawhi Leonard continues at the NBA Summer League as the Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 92-81 to secure their second victory in as many games. Once again this game featured a steady diet of the Spurs' second-year swingman, and the bottom-of-the-barrel Lakers summer squad couldn't quite keep up.
San Antonio has one of the more experienced teams in Las Vegas this week with two players - three if you count Cory Joseph - with significant minutes at the NBA level. While this week's focus will be almost solely on Leonard, other players in the Silver and Black have been impressive.
Leonard led the way again for the Spurs with 27 points, but Joseph's 18 points on just 12 attempts were further evidence of the young point guard's continued development. While he might not be an integral part of this team heading into the fall, he's certainly a player whose importance will grow as he progresses into the later years of his contract. But for now, he's the first to compliment his teammate who's bursting on the scene in Vegas.
"You guys see (Leonard). He's very versatile and you can see he can do a lot," Joseph said. "He can shoot the ball, he can dribble, he makes the right decisions."
But all Leonard praise aside, Joseph is shooting the ball well right now.
"I've worked very hard with the coaching staff in San Antonio. Coach Chip (Engelland), I have to dedicate all the hard work to him," he said. "He helped me out a lot on my shot and just made me feel more comfortable."
And it's showing. Through two games of Summer League, Joseph's perimeter jumper has been very consistent. He shot a blistering 7-for-11 in the first game and followed it up with a 6-for-12 performance this afternoon. His control of the offense has been another aspect of his game that's enjoyable to watch, given the importance of the point guard role in the San Antonio system. Without an offseason in which to train with a coaching staff, the assimilation to the NBA was difficult for the inexperienced Joseph. Now he's getting the chance to learn how to pace himself.
"As a point guard, you have to keep the defense on their heels. You (have to) know when to attack and know when to set up your teammates and get them involved," he said. "I'm still learning, still trying to get better at it and keep working hard."
Though his speed is not quite on par with the Spurs' current starting point guard - that Tony Parker guy - Joseph's quickness and fast-break style are reminiscent of San Antonio's floor general. His ability to score in the paint isn't quite there yet, but he's got some time, you know, being 20 years old and all.
The Spurs' version of the Summer League "Big 3" has been successful thus far - Leonard, Joseph and James Anderson - combining for 58 points against the Lakers. And as the week progresses, we will most likely see more from these three. And who knows? Maybe Anderson won't leave Vegas a Spur.
(I'll talk to y'all later. I am under immense peer pressure from LJ Rotter and Mike Levin to go eat. Another post coming soon.)