Key Storylines from San Antonio Spurs Summer League Team
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What makes the San Antonio Spurs such a constant threat in the NBA?
Is it stars like Tony Parker and Tim Duncan? Is it Gregg Popovich? Is it a legendary sixth man in Manu Ginobili along with a rag-tag contingent of dependable role players?
Sure, to be honest, all of these are valid explanations, but it would be ignoring two key facets of the Spurs organization's recipe for success: scouting and instilling a military-like culture.
Between their coaching staff, their scouts and the culture they've forced their personnel to embrace, it's hard to find another organization like them. A highly disciplined team-first culture is always nice, but their scouting staffers also tend to get overlooked for their phenomenal ability to find no-names and turn them into overnight sensations, a la Danny Green.
Their system is like a well-oiled machine and finding new parts can be a challenge, but for them, they make this process look seamless. By designing a highly effective strategy that doesn't rely on gimmicks or athleticism, but instead opts for fundamentals above everything else, they can always find new players to fill various roles from season to season.
With this in mind, the Spurs have another task before them: moving on after a gut-wrenching loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Assuming they are interested in someone on their summer league roster, the Spurs will be looking for a select set of qualities in a long-term acquisition. This isn't to suggest everyone on their summer league team is some random picked up by their scouting staff, however.
Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo are both familiar faces to Spurs fans, and both of which have shown they're capable of not only playing at the next level, but being productive as well. The summer league is a great opportunity for semi-developmental reservists like De Colo and Joseph to hone their skills and improve, and it gives other guys at the bottom of the roster a chance to make the jump to the next level.
Every player on their roster, whether it's Danny Green or Tim Duncan, has to be a versatile and consummate professional, so cracking the Spurs roster is no easy task. Whether it's relatively unknown Cory Joseph, or virtual no-name Deshaun Thomas, both want to be the next diamond in the rough discovered by the Spurs.
Deshaun Thomas the Next Spurs Rookie Sensation?
To be fair, it's still way too early to call for sure, but it looks like the Annual Spurs Prospect Who Immediately Turned Heads List has a new member—Deshaun Thomas.
Thomas was one of the perceived bottom-of-the-barrel picks in the draft—he went 28th in the second round to the Spurs, and despite little to no acclaim, he's turning heads in the summer league.
The Spurs have always done an excellent job of finding reserve scorers, and with Thomas, it appears they've found yet another one.
Thomas leads all Spurs scorers in the summer league with 12.4 points per game, and in his first two contests, he tallied a combined total of 34 points. He was also 50 percent from behind the arc, with a minimum of four attempts in his first three games.
The three-point stat is a great one to focus on because it shows he isn't ridiculously trigger happy with his attempts. He's clearly taking shots he should be taking rather than forcing ill-advised attempts and trying too hard to be great.
He's letting the game come to him, and his trigger discipline is a great quality to have in such a young player—the kid will be 22 years old in August.
Is DeShaun Thomas the real deal?
Keep an eye on Thomas come regular-season time, because if he continues to play well, he will definitely have himself a roster spot somewhere in the NBA—even if it isn't for San Antonio.
De Colo and Joseph Continue to Make Strides
As the respective ages of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker continue to tick further and further, eventually a new era will be ushered in.
Transition is always a difficult process, but the transition is easier when you establish who is among your assets and expendables. Now, while summer league performances should be taken with a grain of salt, they shouldn't exactly be ignored either.
Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo could be possible assets, but they have a long, long way to go. Joseph is a tough-minded, ball-pounding guard, and De Colo is a savvy Euro who is capable of stretching the floor despite an atrocious recent outing from beyond the arc.
Neither has highly developed offensive skill sets, but both are competent enough to be plugged into the offensive sets the Spurs love to run. Between the two, De Colo is certainly the more versatile player, as he's a 6'5" swingman who's capable of putting the ball on the floor and distributing.
Joseph is an outstanding man-to-man defender, and considering his age (he's 21), he has plenty of time to diversify his offensive game.
Both have been playing well, and both trail Deshaun Thomas as top scorers on the summer league roster.
If the rebuilding era comes sooner rather than later for San Antonio, both De Colo and Joseph could be crucial reserve pieces, as both are defensive minded yet versatile enough to play would-be shooter or transition finisher if need be.
It's only summer league, but it's still an encouraging sign for Spurs fans.
Can Spurs Make Use of Former Heat Big Man?
Dexter Pittman's time on the Miami Heat was spent more as a highly paid courtside-seat patron than actual in-game participant.
Pittman had a tough situation—he came into the league as an extremely raw player on one of the deepest rosters in the league. For a team wanting to win now, there was no way he'd play ahead of the likes of Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem or recently acquired Chris Andersen—all of whom were better options than he was on the Heat.
Pittman was plagued by slow feet, brick hands and a penchant for swatting aimlessly at attackers, but he was a big body. In an era depleted of big men, if someone built him into something productive, he could eat very well.
After being traded and subsequently waived by the Memphis Grizzlies, Pittman now finds himself on the San Antonio Spurs summer league squad, and his performance so far has been so-so.
Dex is contributing a "meh"-inducing seven points and 5.8 rebounds, with two blocks per game and nearly three turnovers per contest.
The latter of which is okay if you're a point guard, but it's a no-go for a big man like Dexter Pittman.
Considering the fact Pop despises unreliable and turnover-prone personnel, it's not likely that Pittman will make the final roster.
However, this isn't the end of the road for him. Somewhere out there, an NBA team will struggle to build him into a poor man's Kendrick Perkins—thanks to his lumbering 6'11", nearly 300-pound frame.
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