As the Las Vegas leg of the 2013 NBA Summer League inches closer, we look at a roster full of talented young men, some who have played in the NBA and some who have not, and we ask ourselves "Who needs to prove themselves the most?"
Of course every player participating in the Summer League is hoping for a chance to play in the NBA, and more so for the San Antonio Spurs, but two names that pop up are 2010 draftee Ryan Richards and 2012 draftee Marcus Denmon.
After being drafted by the Spurs with the 49th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Richards went to play overseas for the Polish team Asseco Prokom Gdynia and then BC Zepter Vienna of the Austrian Basketball League. He participated in the 2012 Summer League for the San Antonio Spurs where he played in 4 games and averaged 11 minutes, 35.7 percent from the floor, 60 percent from the line. He also averaged 2.8 rebounds, 0 assist, 1.2 turnovers and 3.3 points.
Richards gets ready to participate once again in the 2013 Summer League after coming off arguably his best season in Europe. He averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.7 assist and 2 turnovers in 26.2 minutes with BC Vienna where he won the 2013 Austrian Championship.
Richards has been reported to be working out with trainer James Dugdale in England to prepare for the Summer League but more might be at stake for the young man from Britain. As it has been reported, Ryan has not been able to find stability with a team. He quit on Team Great Britain, left Swiss team Lugano Tigers citing "personal reasons," and the list goes on and on.
Richards has to not only show what he can do on the court but that he has the attitude and right frame of mind to commit to playing in the NBA.
Another Spurs draftee that has to prove he can hang in the NBA is 2012 draftee Marcus Denmon. The former University of Missouri star was picked by the Spurs with the 59th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. After being drafted Denmon was also playing overseas for Élan Chalon of the French League, although he says that was always the plan when he was drafted.
“Well, when I was drafted that was always the plan for me to go to France by the San Antonio Spurs. A lot of people thought I didn't make the team or I got cut or different stuff like that but the Spurs are really strategic in what they do. They let me know the night I was drafted that it was just a contract situation so I went to France my first year as a rookie and played over there.”
While in France Denmon averaged 12.9 points, 3 rebounds, 1.7 assist, and 1.4 turnovers in 31.5 minutes.
This is his second year playing for the Spurs Summer League team. Denmon played in 5 games and averaged 14.6 minutes, 37 percent from the floor, 25 percent from beyond the arc and 50 percent from the line. He also averaged 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 assist, 0.2 turnovers and 5.4 points in the 2012 Summer League.
Doing well can land Denmon the spot the final spot on the 2013-2014 Spurs roster where he says he can take the place of Gary Neal.
“Still in the end Gary Neal’s contract is up and we’re not exactly sure what’s going to take place but there are defiantly opportunities to play and opportunities to get on the roster this year. That’s what I look for and something I plan on doing. Gary Neal was defiantly a key piece in what they did this year and with his contract being up it’s something you got to pay attention to and work on things that you may be able to contribute to the team for next year."
The Spurs will begin Summer League play on Friday when the take on the Charlotte Bobcat at 9:00 PM on NBATV.