The 2015 Summer Spurs have two games under their belts and will play their final match in Utah on Thursday before tweaking their roster and heading to Las Vegas. After a great performance against the 76ers by Dairis Bertans, Kyle Anderson scored 25 points on 14 shots and pulled down eight rebounds in the loss against the Jazz. The Spurs had the chance to tie the game on the last play but Anderson couldn't finish after a drive and Cady Lalanne missed the putback.
Anderson looked great on Tuesday, displaying an array of offensive moves that showed why he was drafted in the first round last season. He did most of his damage with the ball in his hands, using screens to get to the paint and finishing with floaters or using his high release to shoot over defenders. He hit a three-pointer on the secondary break but was always looking to get closer to the basket instead of settling for outside shots the Jazz were daring him to take. Being in attack mode allowed him to get to the line nine times, which is always an encouraging sign.
The downside were his five turnovers, some product of his occasionally loose handle and some coming from ambitious passes to players that are simply not able to catch them. Overall, it was a great offensive performance by Slowmo.
Yet the best moment of the night as it pertains to Anderson came after the game. In his post-game interview when asked what he was focusing on Anderson pointed to his defense. "Just trying to play in a stance whenever I'm out there," he told reporters. "Not standing straight-legged, being able to play in a stance for many possessions. That's it. really."
That might sound like pretty basic stuff but it was a huge problem for Anderson, who would often not be in an athletic position, relying instead on his length to defend. That might work in college while playing zone but NBA-caliber players would easily blow by him.
It's been two games but Anderson does show more intensity on the defensive end. The fact that he understands his limitations and is willing to work on his weaknesses bodes well for his career with the Spurs, especially since he might get minutes next season if he can play neutral defense.
- Two things about Livio Jean-Charles have become clear so far: he's a power forward and he can't shoot. Jean-Charles has not played in the perimeter much except for some pick and pops that have gone horribly wrong. He's gone 5-19 from the floor and hasn't attempted a three-pointer. Offensively he has a long way to go before being a factor outside of a hustle guy role.
Defensively, there's a lot of potential there. Against the Jazz he was a foul machine, committing seven personal fouls in 25 minutes. Some of those were of the "half a second too late" variety, which can be traced to the fact that he played two games on two nights likely for the first time in his career. Other than that, he has mobility and length to bother shots inside and mixes it up on the boards.
He's going back to France for at least another year but he's someone to keep an eye on going forward. With more defensive discipline and hopefully an 18-footer, he could be a good role player.
- Dairis Bertans picked up where he had left off on Monday with five quick points in the first quarter, but quickly faded after that. Treveon Graham was more than happy to fill in as a scorer, pouring in 17 off the bench. Graham didn't have his outside shot going but used his physicality to get himself to the line. He's expected to be in the Las Vegas Summer League roster as well and is someone to watch if the Spurs decide to fill their bench with young players.
- Cady Lalanne is trying to show his range by taking jumpers extending to the three-point line and it's hurting his percentages. Lalanne was forced to play inside in college so it's understandable that he wants to prove he's more than an undersized post up player. He should absolutely continue to take those shots, especially since they went in on the P.I.T., but it would be great to see what he can do when he simply crashes the glass and focuses on defense.
As a shot blocker Lalanne definitely has potential and he seems to have the required mobility to guard in space. What he lacks are the fundamentals. In his effort to prevent dribble penetration on pick and rolls he often drops back too far, allowing pocket passes to the dive man. He then tries to recover and block the shot but he's sometimes late. It's only been two games in a new system so Lalanne can't be blamed for not grasping the nuances but it's hard to see him make the roster if those mistakes persist.
- Casper Ware is getting an extended look at point guard but he's not making good use of the opportunity so far, shooting 29 percent from the field and averaging 3.5 assists on over 24 minutes a game. Sharing the court with Anderson sometimes takes the ball out of his hands and forces him to a spot up role but he's simply not separating himself from the competition. The Spurs are sometimes using Bertans as their point guard and Will Cherry will likely get a chance to run the show next game as well. Neither seem like a good candidate to take that third string point guard slot on the big team.
More bad news on that area? Nate Wolters, who was supposed to run point for the Vegas team, injured his finger and is out for the remainder of Summer League. If they want a third point guard, the Spurs will have to look for him elsewhere, it seems.
The Spurs will face the Celtics on their last Utah Summer League game on Thursday, July 8 at 6 p.m. CST.