2012 Las Vegas Summer League: Where the Kawhi Leonard show was fun while it lasted

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No Kawhi Leonard meant more shots for everyone else. (Photo credit: Andrew Smith)

COX PAVILION — In a move that was practical for the Spurs but disappointing for someone who had just hopped off a three-hour flight from Texas, Kawhi Leonard’s summer league ended ahead of Wednesday’s 86-80 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers summer league team.

“I’m the Head Coach of summer league and someone else is the Head Coach of the Spurs,” Jacque Vaughn said after the game about the team’s decision to shut down Leonard. “Maybe my head was getting too big from my 2-0 start.”

The Spurs’ brass sent Vegas standout Kawhi Leonard home for the rest of the week, apparently having seen enough of what he can do against inferior competition and likely with a laundry list of things to fine tune before training camp starts. The decision reportedly had nothing to do with a wrist injury Kawhi suffered during Tuesday’s game against the Lakers.

With Leonard gone, the keys to the summer league castle go to Cory Joseph. CoJo has forced himself into long-term conversations for the Spurs with his play so far this week, showing the ability to harass opposing point guards and knock down shots within the framework of the offense. Against the Clippers and their summer league starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, Joseph scored 22 points, hitting two of three 3-pointers, and handed out six assists. Joseph even made some passes that made me rethink some of my comments from earlier in the week about CoJo not having enough point guard vision.

“We’re trying to put him in different situations and see how he deals with it,” Vaughn said. ” He’s done a pretty good job this week.

“It’s all about learning experiences and game situations and what happens at the end of the game… so it’s a lot going on, especially at the point guard position.”

Now it’s Joseph’s show to run and the emphasis for the Spurs is squarely on CoJo’s development. A questionable draft choice in the first round last summer, Joseph’s potential is beginning to reveal itself and the future looks good. The Summer League reps Joseph is getting this week are only helping that process along.

“I think you can see real development because you can’t simulate these situations with a workout partner or playing at the playground,” Vaughn said. “It’s live action, the speed of NBA players, so the decision-making is faster and you can definitely see development throughout the course of the week.”

Other notes and observations from Game 3 of the Summer League

  • James Anderson will get a contract with someone this season. Anderson only shot 3-8 from the field but he grabbed seven rebounds from the 2-guard position against the Clippers. He’s an NBA player, it’s just unfortunate that he doesn’t fit into the Spurs’ plans anymore.
  • Eric Dawson had 13 rebounds and fits well in the Spurs offensive system. I still think he lines up nicely as the fifth big when we get to 10-day contract time next spring… If another NBA team doesn’t call him up first.
  • After a solid summer league debut, Ryan Richards has yet to really show a discernible NBA skill other than being big and mobile. Saying he’s a long shot to make the Spurs this season is putting it kindly. He needs more development and coaching, and hopefully he can get that somewhere this upcoming season, whether it be in Austin or Europe.
  • I don’t think Alexis Ajinca has played himself onto any NBA team’s radar thus far this summer. For a player as large as him, he’s anonymous when he’s on the floor.
  • STIJL

    Take in a show. Don’t gamble away too much money. Find a way to enjoy why you went there to begin with.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Not a big gambler, but I do plan on hitting up a sports book while I’m here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000509676312 San Antonio Spurs-Fan

    I had just purchased the league pass for summer league, and was waiting to watch the Spurs/clipper matchup, and found out no Kawhi . Man , i was pissed.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I like Joseph more and more. Three games ago I wasn’t convinced he had NBA rotation player potential, but now I’m seeing some flashes of solidly good play. I think he will be the true test of the Spurs/Toros player developmental partnership.

  • vin

    Why can’t we use J.Anderson?
    Can’t we groom him to backup Manu?
    Or somewhere!
    Thanks

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    That’s why the Spurs re-signed Danny Green.

  • Tyler

    You know you have a problem when you’re pouring over the Miami Heat summer league roster debating whether or not to take the Spurs +2.5 in today’s summer league game…..just sayin….

    I’d consider SA 10-1 on next year’s championship….ok value there.

    Blasphemy alert: I really like Lakers 8-1 (last I saw) – will move substantially higher when/if Howard goes to them

  • imwithstupid

    Only way we have room for him is if we trade some pieces away, then I actually like him as a backup 3 (after Jack and Kawhi) more than both Green and Manu.

  • DorieStreet

    There are other sports he could wager on— MLB, British Open, NASCAR, MMA….

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