I've never followed the Summer League very closely, but after watching the Spurs' first game of the 2014 games in Las Vegas, I think I might be hooked. The Spurs beat the Kings, but that doesn't matter much as much as the experience the young guys and unproven veterans got while trying to make the team. Since Stephen Shepperd already looked at the bigger names on the Spurs squad, I focused on Melvin Ejim, Bryce Cotton, and Marcus Denmon.
I have no idea what the plans are for the Spurs with these three players, but I absolutely love what I saw from them. They hustled up and down the court, drove hard to the rim, and, of course, took bad shots and made bad passes. But it's OK, they are all rookies. All they need to do is show promise, which they did.
All three players had an impressive +/-, with Ejim leading the team with +22, Cotton ending with +12, and Denmon having +13.
Bryce Cotton showed an impressive court awareness, best displayed here:
Bryce Cotton with the slick no-look pass to Vander Blue who misses but Daye cleans up. https://t.co/gZ9MfiXX0E— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) July 12, 2014
A no-look pass doesn't always mean a lot, but on top of the other passes, timely shots, and impressive ball handling from Cotton, this was really nice. While Cotton ended with no assists, I was pleased with his court vision, and assists will come as his teammates hit their shots
Marcus Denmon showed that he has the strength and speed to play with the big boys. In the second quarter with about 1:10 left, he drove, used his shoulder, stopped and dropped a nice little floater -- not an easy play to make. Throughout the night, he beat his man off the dribble and used his strength to get closer to the rim.
Melvin Ejim had 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 0 turnovers. His baskets came on great passes from his teammates, like this:
Kyle Anderson with the pretty back door pass to Ejim. The first true highlight from the 30th pick. https://t.co/QSz571Gei9— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) July 12, 2014
Sure, the play happened because of the pass, but takes nothing away from his impressive off-the-ball movement. On the Spurs, as we saw throughout the season, timely movement is incredibly important. Each player needs to react to the openings the defense allows. That's how they make themselves for whatever crazy pass Manu or Boris can throw at them.
While it's unlikely that any of these players will end up on the Spurs' roster next season, they do have potential if they keep improving on their strengths.