The Spurs kicked off their summer league action with a 69-68 win over the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night. Unfortunately, my flight to Las Vegas doesn't leave until tomorrow, so I wasn't able to catch this game live. But, I do have NBATV, so I was still able to watch about as good of a summer league game as we could have asked for.
It was a thriller that ended with some solid execution down the stretch, with the final result being a Cory Joseph midrange jumper to put the Spurs ahead by 2. I do have some game notes prepared, so let's get into it.
- Cory Joseph was really, really fun. He was uber-aggressive from tip-off, and never relented, leading the Spurs with 19 points. He showed off his ability to get to the rim early and often, and was able to finish at the rim consistently, even when surrounded by the tallest defenders. His aggressiveness also allowed him to draw some fouls on the defense, as he got to the stripe time and time again. He was better at directing the offense, and looked good in the pick-and-roll game, which was something he's needed to work on. He had 4 turnovers on the night; likely a tradeoff for all that aggression. All in all, he did look more comfortable than usual when running the offense; and that's what summer league is for: getting comfortable.
- DeShaun Thomas' scoring ability was put on display, showing off his range all game long. Thomas worked almost exclusively out of the pick-and-pop. He was used primarily as a stretch-4, which he played a lot of in college, although some observers (including yours truly) expect him to make a switch to the 3. All things must be taken with a grain of salt in summer league (many a grain of salt, really), but the Ohio State product had a great first outing. He still doesn't play defense, which is going to be a huge issue for any team he tries to make, but the early indications are that his scoring ability will translate to this level, at least.
- For the Bobcats, Jeffery Taylor was the star of the show. He got going early with a couple of long jumpers, and held his own all game long totaling 24 points on 9-17 shooting. He was a capable ball-handler, running some pick-and-roll action, one possession ending with a tomahawk slam over a late rotation from Aron Baynes. He also had a late game three-pointer off of a pretty hand-off action from out of bounds that put the Bobcats up 1 before Joseph's game-winner.
- The debut of Cody Zeller was a not-so-pretty one. The 4th overall pick in the 2013 draft looked awkward all first half, didn't seem to know where he should be on offense, was out of place defensively, and just looked unsettled in general. In the second half, he calmed down a bit and made a few solid plays. Overall, it wasn't stellar, but it's just his first game. In summer league. So there's really nothing to worry about quite yet.
- One player to watch for the rest of the week is Hollis Thompson. The 6'8", 206 lbs. Georgetown product, who played with the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League last year, started at the 3 for the Spurs had an all-around solid night. He didn't do any one thing that jumped out; but, he worked on the defensive end, crashed he boards hard, and kept the ball movement going on offense. He may not do anything spectacular in Las Vegas, but he seems to do the little things well, which could help him moving forward.
With that, the 2013 NBA Las Vegas Summer League is underway! I look frward to bringing you more thoughts once I'm actually in town, and I'm finally able to see things live at the Thomas & Mack Center. If today is an indicator, it's sure to be a great time, and some fun basketball to watch.