I was lucky enough to come down to San Antonio and go to today's Spurs open practice. I got there right around 1:30 when the event was slated to start, and there really was no practice and instead the silver team faced off against the black team for a scrimmage.
While I got to see Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the others, I came away most impressed with DeJuan Blair.
Spurs fans in attendance can probably attest that Blair's name was said more than any other player's name. Blair was a beast down low and showed a nice low-post game and he seemed to grab every rebound within reach. There was one possession where Bonner was absolutely abused by Blair. All I can say is that Blair is the real deal and he'll be an asset off the bench this season.
Malik Hairston also played very aggressively and got to the basket with ease, including one highlight slam. Hairston continues to show why the Spurs gave him a contract and why he should earn a roster spot on this team.
George Hill started for the silver team, made up of the starters, since Pop is not ready to let Parker go full-speed just yet. Again, Hill showed the same poise he displayed in Vegas. He looked comfortable, he made his shots and he also looks like he's in incredible shape.
Roger Mason seemed to put every basketball he touched through the hoop, especially coming off screens. We got a chance to see Marcus Williams play point guard, but he had some trouble defending Curtis Jerrells, who looked like he was on skates. At the same time, Jerrells couldn't buy a shot, until it counted and the second team needed a basket for the eventual win.
Theo Ratliff had one highlight block and, probably more importantly, he was a presence in the paint and you can tell he was on the mind of anyone who tried to penetrate and get to the basket. Richard Jefferson, though he didn't do anything outstanding, seemed comfortable in a secondary role and hit quite a few shots.
It was good to see Manu dunk the ball on a breakaway, though he didn't put it through the hoop with too much power, likely because he would have found a spot in Pop's doghouse pretty quickly. Perhaps, most important was that the players on both sides seemed pretty comfortable with the Spurs offensive schemes, possibly due to Pop's decision to trim down the playbook.
The second team ended up winning the game, which shows how much the bench has improved over recent years.
Once the game was over, the fans in attendance were treated to a three-point shootout with Keith Bogans, Marcus Haislip, Michael Finley, Marcus Williams and Tim Duncan. Duncan went last. Duncan needed four threes to win and beat that mark easily with Richard Jefferson providing commentary.
All in all, it was a fun event and it was great seeing all of the familiar faces and new players come together. The Spurs also hosted a Cowboys game viewing party after the scrimmage, and everyone in attendance was given a voucher for a free lower level ticket to a preseason game. Congratulations to the Spurs for putting on a great event for fans.
Note: I'll be uploading a video sometime this week. Tonight Jeff Garcia and I will also be recording a podcast talking about the scrimmage and all the latest preseason news and info.