Transitioning from European prospect to NBA rookie always comes with it's own set of highs, lows and bumps in the road as San Antonio Spurs guard Nando De Colo experienced in his first season, going from exciting fan favorite and Manu Ginobili heir apparent to earning consistent playing time before being kept on the sidelines throughout the playoffs.
De Colo recently spoke to French daily La Voix Du Nord about exactly that while he was back home visiting family before he starts his sophomore campaign early in Vegas this month.
"Sure it's a great first season, especially when you get to the finals," De Colo told the paper about his rookie experience. ""We always expect more. I arrived in a big club with title goals. From this point of view, I knew it would be clear from the beginning of the season."
De Colo said his goal was to try to earn more playing time, and as he said before, just before the playoffs, he seemed to solidify his role as Tony Parker's backup until Cory Joseph assumed that role in the playoffs, part of decisions De Colo said he respects.
Those decisions likely taught De Colo that the NBA is after all, a business.
"When you're in the NBA, you keep in the back of your head that you're a pawn, just a commodity, you can change clubs like that, because you're not considered good enough or because you are in a deal with two other players. We must accept it because that's your job."
De Colo did comment that the Spurs are like a family and everyone takes care of everyone, as evidenced by the support he received from fellow countrymen Parker and Boris Diaw.
The guard corps for the Spurs is a packed house with the recent addition of Marco Belinelli, the re-signing of Ginobili and Patty Mills coming back along with Parker, Joseph and Danny Green. It'll likely be a battle for minutes again.
De Colo will be getting an early start and hope to make a solid impression when Las Vegas Summer League starts on July 12.
"It's an important thing for me to reinforce the coaches in the idea of what they can do with me, how they can use me."
With Ginobili likely signing his last contract, if De Colo can give Spurs fans and coaches more than a glimpse of that Manu magic we're used to seeing from his teammate, he could possibly carve out a long term role in San Antonio.
He's still not in the same ballpark as Ginobili, but more time on the floor in summer league and some time in the gym and with the national team could go a long way this summer. It'll also go a long way in determining whether he finds a spot in the rotation with the silver & black in San Antonio, or if he gets lost in the logjam and ends up in the silver & black of Austin.