The San Antonio Spurs picked up their first victory of the 2021 Summer League behind a phenomenal performance from second-year point guard Tre Jones, narrowly edging out the Charlotte Hornets, 106-105, in a high-scoring affair.
Precautionary measures kept Devin Vassell and Josh Primo from seeing the court on Thursday. And while fans both at home and in attendance weren’t pleased, their absence freed up opportunities for Tre Jones and Joe Wieskamp to shine.
Despite coming into the matchup severely shorthanded, the Silver and Black persevered against a preposterously talented Hornets squad home to James Bouknight, Grant Riller, Kai Jones, JT Thor, Scottie Lewis, and Vernon Carey Jr.
Turnovers piled up in the second half, and there were stretches where the Spurs struggled to contain Charlotte’s explosive offense. That said, this game was perhaps the most the team has looked like a cohesive unit since arriving in Las Vegas.
With those brief notes out of the way, let’s dive into how San Antonio’s prospects performed in front of a raucous Cox Pavillion crowd. Only two recent draftees participated, so there will be plenty of video clips and postgame quotes to follow.
Tre Jones (34 Points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists on 12-of-20 shooting)
Thursday was undoubtedly the most memorable Summer League outing we’ve seen from any Spur thus far. And the offensive outburst from Tre Jones was arguably the best performance from any player through five days in Las Vegas. The second-year guard did a little bit of everything for San Antonio on their way to a well-deserved dub.
The first thing that immediately stood out was Tre’s ability to get to the rim at will and finish through contact. He routinely punished big men for switching on the perimeter, and his game-winning go-ahead layup came via a screen to get him a mismatch with Kai Jones as the clock ticked down. His poise was remarkable, and his execution was immaculate.
Tre gets the switch onto Kai and takes the big man off the dribble for the game-winning layup: pic.twitter.com/15ihanIIhf— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Not only did Jones take advantage of switches in the pick-and-roll, but he used his noticeably improved burst, shiftiness with the ball, low center of gravity, and added strength to blow by smaller defenders. And when the Hornets tried to trap him by sending multiple men his way, he showed the awareness and balance to split the double team and get downhill.
Tre Jones has made a trend of getting to the rim at will this Summer League: pic.twitter.com/NovgjME0MN— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Tre got where he wanted when he wanted and continued displaying a more refined midrange game. His crossovers were crisp and purposeful, and his comfort implementing step-back jumpers into his repertoire has popped since stepping onto the court. Shooting wasn’t a strong suit for Jones last season, but he talked about why that could change soon.
“I want to have a big role at the next level like I’ve always had,” Jones told reporters. “So in order to do that, I gotta work on all areas. My jump shot is the best it’s ever been. I’m the most comfortable I’ve ever had it right now, and I’m continuing to grow in that area.”
His shots found the bottom of the net, and nobody could stop Tre from getting to the cup, which allowed him to leverage his scoring prowess into playmaking opportunities. There were quite a few avoidable turnovers, but the Spurs will probably live with his mistakes as long as he routinely finds the open man like he did today.
Tre Jones continues to show comfort shooting pull-up jumpers: pic.twitter.com/YuvPgAaAQK— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Jones pushed the pace in transition, manipulated the defense with his eyes, identified cutters, hit the roll-men in stride, and delivered a gorgeous outlet pass right on the money to a sprinting DaQuan Jeffries. And fans can probably put any doubts about him becoming a full-time backup to rest after his encouraging showing.
Tre with a gorgeous hit ahead assist to Jeffries: pic.twitter.com/AwQH6Eg4l4— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Hearing players communicate with one another on the court can be nearly impossible through television. But you can hear the players speaking with one another courtside, and if you were in Cox Pavillion, Tre was the most vocal player for San Antonio. He directed traffic on both ends and spoke about his newfound role as a leader after the game.
“It’s weird because it’s my first Summer League, but I’ve gotta be the vet out here for guys who haven’t been in this situation,” Jones said. “I’m trying to do everything I’ve learned over the past year, what the coaches have been harping on, just help us stay together as a team.”
Defensively, the six-one point guard did well despite a height disparity on the majority of his assignments. Jones got underneath Bouknight, making him uncomfortable and forcing him to kick it out and reset the offense on multiple occasions. Bouknight got the better of Tre when he could shoot over the top of him, but his last-second steal sealed a Spurs victory.
Tre Jones with the game-sealing steal: pic.twitter.com/QQe8XXhkUu— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Joe Wieskamp (17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 6-of-13 shooting)
Joe Wieskamp built upon the momentum from his previous game to put forth his best Summer League performance. He continued to relocate well without the ball, knocked down a trifecta of catch-and-shoot triples, and used screens to get himself open. It was a step in the right direction, and the rookie swingman talked about the learning curve of the NBA.
“Summer League is all about learning,” Wieskamp told reporters. “I feel like I’m learning something new every single day, and I’m feeling more and more comfortable with each game.”
The six-seven two-guard isn’t comfortable creating offense off the dribble, but that won’t be his role in the NBA. Wieskamp makes a living with his off-ball movement, something highlighted by a tough reverse finish at the rim following a beautiful cut from the left corner with Tre Jones putting pressure on the defense in transition.
Ninth assist from Tre Jones goes to Wieskamp pic.twitter.com/pfwRsCKXaV— Tom Petrini (@RealTomPetrini) August 12, 2021
Aside from allowing an uncontested Kai Jones jam after failing to box out on a vital possession down the stretch, Wieskamp, much like Tre, chased down every rebound within his reach. Cleaning the glass may seem like a trivial measure of effort, though anyone watching the action saw just how many extra possessions he prevented Charlotte from attaining.
While the first-year sharpshooter doesn’t project as much of an initiator, Joe was great at keeping the ball moving and notched a couple of assists by making fundamental reads. Wieskamp illustrated playmaking potential on the other end, recording a pair of blocks and picking off a lazy pass to get a fastbreak started.
With that in mind, there are a couple of concerns regarding his defensive versatility and recognition. The former Hawkeye recorded the fourth-fastest shuttle time and a 42-inch vertical at the NBA Draft Combine. Despite those off-the-charts physical measurements, his athleticism hasn’t looked all that functional out on the hardwood.
The Hornets routinely attacked Wieskamp, and he didn’t have the lateral mobility or footspeed to recover on most plays. Even when guys couldn’t get past him, they didn’t have much trouble driving through him. Coupled with some missed rotations and miscommunication, the 21-year-old wing has work to do before becoming a serviceable defender.
Let’s end things on a positive note. Wieskamp’s long-range jumper looks exceptionally smooth. Though the motion is relatively slow when held to the standards of the league’s premium marksmen, the release is high enough to afford him the extra time necessary to get his shot off. Stick him in a gym with Chip Engelland, and he’ll develop a quicker trigger.
Joe Wieskamp knocks down a catch-and-shoot three-pointer: pic.twitter.com/RYfeqInow1— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) August 12, 2021
Check out my previous article for more San Antonio Spurs Summer League coverage live from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Today was my last day on the sidelines in Sin City, but stay tuned as I track the progress of San Antonio’s top prospects.