The Spurs who impressed (and disappointed) in the Summer League

Who impressed you the most in Summer League play?

Marilyn Dubinski: I’m going with Dominick Barlow. He looked so lost on an NBA court for the majority of last season, but seemed like a brand new player in Summer League. Yes, the level of competition is different in Vegas, but I didn’t expect him to come out and tear up the course like he did. He’s made his case to be on a guaranteed NBA contract, and hopefully that comes with the Spurs. Runner-up would be Julian Champagnie, who already had a guaranteed contract coming but more than justified Spurs’ decision.

Mark Barrington: Obviously, the most impressive player at Spurs is Victor. He looked out of sorts in his first game after all the publicity and bizarre distractions, but looked like he could do anything he wanted in the second game. And you could tell he was just scratching the surface, once he gets enough familiarity with the system to know where his teammates are, he’s going to be unstoppable on offense and it’s going to be really hard for players to score on him.

Bruno Passos: Shoutout to Julian Champagnie who set the California Classic on fire before cooling off in Vegas. He looks like a real rotation player either way, but I’m curious about where he fits in as a three-point shooter, as that will likely determine a lot of his value. Dominick (Dom? What’s the style guide saying here?) Barlow couldn’t miss midrange and showed a new understanding of where to be on both ends of the floor and how to use his long frame. Given how raw he still is and his physical tools, it was the kind of display you want out of a player on his developmental path, and it has me interested in seeing him get some meaningful reps against NBA talent next year. (The answer is of course still Victor)

Jesus Gómez: Barlow showed real growth. He seems to have settled in nicely as an undersized but athletic center who can finish inside, has some range and uses his length and mobility well on defense. It was just Summer League play, but if it translates to the actual NBA, he could give Charles Bassey some competition for minutes, which is not something I think many would have said before seeing his performance in the last couple of weeks.

Which play worried you the most during Summer League play?

Deep: I’ll have to go with Blake Wesley. While “concerned” might not be the right word, he didn’t make much of a jump from the end of last season and is still as error-prone as he was before. One area he did improve somewhat was finishing at the rim, where he was in the bottom percentile for guards last season, but we’ve yet to see if that will translate to interior defense at the NBA level. He came into Summer League with perhaps the most to prove, and it looks like he’s going into the regular season in the same boat.

Barrington: I wouldn’t say I’m worried, but I do have some concerns about Blake Wesley’s offense. He has shown some progress at times, even using the mid shot a few times when the paint is too congested. But all too often he puts his head down and comes to the paint with no plan on how to get the ball in the basket. I have high hopes that he’ll figure it out eventually, but so far he’s really ineffective offensively. He’s a solid defender, so even if he improves just a little bit on offense, he could be the Spurs’ point guard of the future, or at least a key part of the rotation.

There is always the hope that Victor’s presence will open up the game for others, as Wembanyama will not be exclusively a paint player, and that could give Blake more room to operate. It’s probably no coincidence that the game in which Wesley looked most comfortable was Wembanyama’s 27-point breakout game.

Step: I say Wesley and I’m ready to mean “concerned”. At his size and with a growing stock of young talent on the roster, the margin for error is too small if you’re not a reliable knockdown shooter, a reliable floor general, or at least someone who can create an advantage when you need to . that. It feels like the best version of him is a shooter with a long leash and a clear green light to do some things, so I hope the Spurs give him a crack at that if the other parts of his game don’t work out quite. get together.

Gómez: Wesley will be the unanimous answer here. Only 20 years old, he joined the Spurs as a project never expected to be in the rotation anytime soon, but the consistent poor decision-making when attacking is concerning. It’s one thing for him that he’s not a good floor general or a reliable shooter yet, but the wild drives are harder to overlook. It’s great that he’s gotten stronger, but unless he gets into the paint more often with a plan, he won’t be the type to be an engine on offense. The speed is what makes Wesley such an exciting prospect, but he just hasn’t learned how to use it yet. There is still time, but he will have to start showing at least some progress soon.

If you could instruct a Spur to focus on improving one skill before training camp, who and what would it be?

Deep: I wanted to “teach” Wemby how to set harder picks in pick-and-roll (as if I’d be better). It’s always been a big part of Pop’s offense and will be what will free him and his guards up the most on drives to the basket, and in Summer League he mostly rolled without picking the big one. I almost wanted to put Avery Johnson in front of him and say a modern version of his famous line from 1999, “PICK-and-roll, PICK-and-roll, Wemby, we got to PICK-and-roll.”

Barrington: I would ask Blake Wesley to watch more film of Tony Parker in his prime and learn how he used body control, rhythm and tricks like going wrong to set up shots in tight spaces that are hard to block. It’s a skill he’ll need to learn if he wants to be a scoring point guard who lives in the paint.

Step: I’m going to leave Wembanyama out of this because it’s year zero and part of the fun is seeing where he goes from this initial state. But the answer should be what makes that development as successful as possible, so I’ll go with Devin Vassell’s pull-up three ball, which could really open up a two-man game with Wembo, as well as being the next logical step in Vassell’s own trajectory. Honorable mentions to Jeremy Sochan (corner three) and Keldon Johnson (decision making in the pick and roll).

Gómez: I would ask Tre Jones to work on his middle game. It’s too optimistic to expect Jones to suddenly develop a pull-up jumper that extends past the three-point line, but if he can get comfortable from the elbows, he’ll be able to put a lot more pressure on defenses on the pick-and- rolls even when the defender goes under the pick. He can hit that shot, but he barely takes it. Perhaps even more important than the pull-up is a consistent floater. Being able to score in the paint without always having to challenge shot blockers is a must for any undersized guard, so Tre should watch some Tony Parker highlights and get in the gym to work on his touch.

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