The San Antonio Spurs were shorthanded with all of their sophomore NBA talent sitting out the last game of the summer league. Despite the lack of established NBA talent, the team still put on quite the offensive performance.
With a squad full of likely G League players, the Spurs handled the Thunder in a 98-94 victory. They showed the kind of depth that this organization can have extending all of the way down to their affiliate in Austin.
With the addition of the Trail Blazers G League team, only the Phoenix Suns don’t have an affiliate in the league. It’s quickly becoming the “minors” for basketball. In baseball, having a good farm system is one of the most important aspects of team building. NBA teams like the Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat have shown that assembling talent in the G League can eventually net you good role players at the pro level. With Victor Wembanyama leading the team into the future, Austin will now become an important place to develop young players.
This summer the Spurs have had undrafted rookies and two-way contract candidates shine in Sacramento and Las Vegas. Second-round selection Sidy Cissoko has impressed with his defensive aptitude, NBA-ready body and flair for the game in the open court.
But he hasn’t necessarily shown the ability to be as productive in the half-court offensively. Someone like Cissoko is a prime G League candidate. He’s shown the potential to be an interesting NBA player, but still has enough holes in his game that he may not be ready to contribute in his rookie season. Some time in Austin to develop his game and get primary ball-handler reps could do him a lot of good.
Heck, even someone that didn’t play against OKC, like Blake Wesley, could use time in Austin. With the acquisition of Cameron Payne, Reggie Bullock and Cedi Osman, the Spurs have prioritized adding veteran role players this summer. It may be hard for players like Wesley to carve out a defined role. Giving him more reps in Austin can allow him to build off of the success he’s seen in the summer league.
The summer league has provided some data points that suggest the Spurs are going to have strong organizational depth. The Austin roster could be stacked with borderline NBA talent or players who could eventually develop into it. It may be worth checking out the exciting G League team this season.
- Cissoko’s performance was so fun to watch. Some Spurs fans online have referred to themselves as “Sidy Cissickos,” a play on the “basketball sickos,” or people so obsessed with the game they would take time out of their Sunday to watch G Leaguers play in the summer league. Cissoko’s talent in transition is what really pops. His creativity and athleticism are a dynamite combo. If the Spurs continue to play a fast paced game, he could eventually become a key role player. Almost netting a triple-double in your last summer league game is something to celebrate.
- Sir’Jabari Rice continued to show promise in his second summer league affair. The two-way rookie had 13 points and 4 steals off of the bench. He’s got a funky approach to the game, playing at his own pace and utilizing a lot of fakes. He showed some real shot making ability with a few pull up jumpers from the mid range and three point arc. Defensively he really gets after it. He’s active with his pressure full court and isn’t afraid to get on the floor to extend plays. That kind of hustle is going to be a breath of fresh air when he’s needed with the big league team next year. I’m really excited what he can do on his two-way contract.
- Two players who I would like to see get some time to develop in Austin are Erik Stevenson and Charles Bediako. Stevenson has a solid shooting stroke. He shoots a lot and could use some time to learn how to get off his shot without as much space. He’s a tough guard, and as we’ve seen with shooters like Max Strus, a combination of touch and toughness can get you real minutes on an NBA roster. Bediako is just a beast in the paint. He had 17 points and 11 rebounds in his best game of the summer. His physicality, motor and length are going to be his greatest strengths as his career progresses. He can move better than I had previously given him credit for. If he can develop some more strength and touch around the rim, it would not shock me to see him carve out a nice NBA career.