I'm going to Summer League this year in Las Vegas. I'm as excited as I can be and I really can't wait for it to start. The games start on July 12 (the Spurs kick off their summer league action against the Charlotte Bobcats that evening at 7 PM), and I'll be there to cover the event from the July 13-21.
Since I won't be able to make it to Vegas until the 13th, I won't be able to cover the game live from the arena, but I'll still be able to watch the game on NBA TV and post a recap.
In my time there, I plan on posting not only recaps for the Spurs games, but daily previews and recaps for the games I choose to attend. I want to make an effort to cover all of the teams there at least once, and I also have a lot of former college stars I look forward to seeing get an opportunity from an NBA team. (Shouts out to D.J. Cooper, the pride of Ohio University who will be playing for the Golden State Warriors squad! Go Bobcats!)
With that said, lets look at a few key players on the Spurs summer league roster. (Here's a link for the full roster.)
Cory Joseph, PG: At the end of the regular season he was thrust into the starting role when Tony Parker went out with an injury, and Joseph played well, playing within the system and allowing the game to come to him. In the playoffs, that seemed to waver a bit, as he played unsure of himself. He was reluctant to shoot on offense, and turned the ball over more. Joseph has the potential to become yet another good Spurs guard, with his ability to finish around the rim and tenacity on defense. Playing in the summer league should provide him an opportunity to play with no fear of making a mistake, and helping him morph into a more assertive player, and also give him some time to improve on running the pick-and-roll, which is key for a Spurs guard.
Nando De Colo, G: De Colo had a solid first season with the Spurs, but fell out of favor at the end of the year due to the emergence of Cory Joseph, and a shortened rotation. With Joseph taking away De Colo's spot in the rotation, the second-year guard will have to find another way to prove his worth. Spurs summer league coach Ime Udoka has already said that De Colo will play off the ball in Las Vegas, which will give a decent idea of how De Colo could be as a shooting guard. In the Spurs system, that means he needs to be a good passer (which he is), and know how to run the pick-and-roll and attack defensive rotations well (which he needs to work on). [editor's note: Also, shoot more. -SfS]
Aron Baynes, C: There's a sort of mystery surrounding Baynes, as no one watching the Spurs last year really got to see what he could do at an NBA level. The one good glimpse we got of him was when he started Game 4 against the Lakers in the first round, and had 6 points on 3-6 attempts and 2 rebounds. He's athletc, and has a good NBA body, so there's a chance he can turn into a good defensive role player. LVSL will give him a chance to learn the complexities of an NBA defensive system, and give a good outline on what he's good at.
DeShaun Thomas, F: The Spurs second-round pick in this year's draft, who originally didn't even give the Spurs his cell phone number, is my sleeper pick for their best summer league player. The former 3rd-team All-American had a reputation for filling up the basket at Ohio State, and will look to do the same in Las Vegas. He has a long, LONG way to go defensively, and he isn't a great passer either; but he is a scoring threat, at least in summer league. It'll be fun to watch him gun relentlessly for the next week or so.
Marcus Denmon, G: After being drafted late in the second round last year, Denmon was told to got to Europe for a year, then come back to the Spurs organization and re-evaluate where they stood. Well, a year has passed. Denmon went to Europe, and became one of his team's top scorers. So now, we hurry up and wait some more. The only way Denmon will make the cut is if he proves himself worthy of replacing Gary Neal on the Spurs roster...by doing what Neal once did in summer league.
Again, I cannot wait for Summer League. It's a great event with tons of storylines, and I'm so happy I'm going to be right there at the center of it all. For a full breakdown of the summer league schedule, and how the new tournament works, you can go here. Be sure to check in every day of Summer League here to check out what's going on for both the Spurs and the rest of the league. And, if you can't get enough of it, you can follow Pounding the Rock on twitter @poundingtherock, or if you'd like to have my perspective, you can follow me @EeyoreWolfDough. I hope yoou all enjoy this as much as I will!