San Antonio Spurs: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
The San Antonio Spurs display a knack for finding undervalued talent, so their summer league squad is one to watch.
After surging to the Western Conference Finals on the strength of one of basketball's deepest rosters, the Spurs will look to keep the band together for one more title run. The Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli will need some help if they want to match and exceed last season's success.
San Antonio used its only draft pick, the second-to-last selection of the draft, on Missouri guard Marcus Denmon, who the Spurs hope will mesh in the team's bench of unsung heroes.
The Spurs have yet to officially announce their summer league roster, but here are some players and storylines that will likely develop.
San Antonio Spurs' Summer League Schedule
Sunday, July 15 at 8:00 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks
Tuesday, July 17 at 8:30 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs vs. L.A. Lakers
Wednesday, July 18 at 6:30 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs vs. L.A. Clippers
Friday, July 20 at 5:00 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
Saturday, July 21 at 6:00 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks
Cory Joseph, PG, San Antonio Spurs (1 Year Experience)
Player Profile: 6'3'', 185 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 2.0 points, 1.2 assists, 0.9 rebounds, 0.2 steals, 31.4 FG%, 20.0 3P%, 64.7FT%
Key Storyline: Not every pick can be a winner. Cory Joseph, the No. 29 pick in last year's draft, failed to perform for the Spurs last year and quickly fell out of favor.
Joseph could not replace George Hill as Parker's backup point guard, playing limited minutes in only 29 games before being relegated to bench duty. The 20-year-old drew early comparisons to the player he replaced in San Antonio, but Joseph showed little promise during his rookie season.
Not every rookie can deliver immediately, but Joseph faces an uphill climb for playing time on Gregg Popovich's crowded bench with Denmon's arrival.
Prediction: Aside from garbage time, Joseph will stay on the bench during the 2012-13 season.
Marcus Denmon, G, Missouri (2012 No. 59 Overall Pick)
Player Profile: 6'3'', 185 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 46.0 FG%, 40.7 3P%, 89.6 FT%
Key Storyline: With their sole pick in this year's draft, the Spurs selected Denmon, a tweener guard from Missouri with a solid shot at cracking the roster.
Denmon progressed in each of his four seasons with the Tigers and is just the type of polished player that can make an impact in San Antonio. His efficient shooting should allow him to gel well in a Spurs offense that led the league in three-pointers last season.
His defensive effectiveness is a question mark, as Denmon plays like a shooting guard in a point guard's body. Monitor his progress guarding other NBA hopefuls in summer league action.
Prediction: Denmon makes the team and earns limited minutes off the bench during his rookie season.
Danny Green, SG/SF, San Antonio Spurs (3 Years Experience)
Player Profile: 6'6'', 210 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 44.2 FG%, 43.6 3P%, 79.0 FT%
Key Storyline: Despite emerging as the Spurs' starting shooting guard last season, Danny Green stumbled in the Western Conference Finals. The 25-year-old hit five of 23 shots from long range in a dreadful shooting display. Green lost his starting role and was spelled out of the San Antonio's lineup for the final two games.
According to ESPN, Green signed a three-year, $11.3 million contract to stay with the Spurs. Despite a cushy new deal, Green could benefit from playing in the summer league to find his confidence.
Green must overcome his shaky postseason showing since Gregg Popovich will not hesitate to sit him and play the hot hand.
Prediction: Green will regain his starting spot to start the year, but he will be placed on a tight leash with Ginobli and Stephen Jackson on the bench.
Derrick Byars, SF, San Antonio Spurs (1 Year Experience)
Player Profile: 6'7'', 220 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 5.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 27.3 FG%
Key Storyline: While saving their key players for a postseason run, the Spurs signed Derrick Byars to play in the final two games of the regular season. Now he will try to stick with the team for a little longer.
Byars averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 rebounds during a 25-game D-League stint before receiving a promotion. The 28-year-old swingman, formerly a second-round pick in 2007, is a dynamic talent that never panned out as a pro. If there was ever an organization who could rejuvinate his career, it's the Spurs.
A solid shooter who knows how to space the floor well, Byars is the type of athlete who can flourish in the San Antonio's finely-tuned offense. With a summer league invite, Byars could prove his worth and finally escape D-League purgatory
Prediction: Unfortunately for Bayers, there are too many other players blocking his path to the NBA.
JaMychal Green, PF, Alabamba (Undrafted Free Agent)
Player Profile: 6'8'', 240 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 54.6 FG%, 69.0 FT%
Key Storyline: After being passed up in the draft, JaMychal Green received a chance to fight for one of the Spurs' roster spots during the summer league.
DeJuan Blair's potential departure could create an opening for Green, another big man who plays larger than his height. Green displayed explosive offensive prowess in Alabamba, cutting to and finishing strong at the basket.
Drawing comparisons to Antonio McDyess and Brandon Bass, Green could provide the Spurs with a much-needed scoring power forward off the bench to relive Duncan. Unfortunately, the Spurs still have several veterans who can block Green for making the team.
Prediction: Even if Green makes the squad, he probably won't see any playing time.
Key Storyline for Entire Summer League Roster
The Spurs already have the heart of their roster in tact, but will any new talent emerge as a potent piece to their squad?
Besides their star three players, they also have Jackson and Boris Diaw with youngsters Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter set to occupy seats on the bench.
In a league moving toward a format driven by building a star-studded cast of three or four studs, the Spurs continue to thrive by trusting its deep bench to log more minutes than other team's reserves. Popovich surely is not afraid to make a change, so will he take a liking to anyone new?
Not a team to make any major signings during free agency, the Spurs will look in-house to fill any potential holes.
Also, Duncan, Parker and Ginobli can't stick around forever. Who will join Kawhi Leonard in the Spurs' gradual changing of the guard?