After sitting out Sunday’s preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs forwards Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw were back in action Monday in the Spurs’ back-to-back preseason game against the Denver Nuggets.
Minus Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs fell to the Nuggets 98-94, despite 13 points apiece from Leonard and Cory Joseph. Here are a few notes on Leonard and Joseph’s production in their minutes on the floor along with a few other notable players.
Starting in Parker’s place, Joseph came out aggressive to start the game. Whether it was pushing the pace with the ball on offense and setting up his teammates, Joseph was assertive early-on as he finished the first quarter with 11 points, two rebounds, and one assist in 12 minutes. Joseph also held Ty Lawson from getting off to a quick start.
Leonard ran the pick-and-roll on a few possessions and even made a jumper. He also attacked the defense to draw fouls and performed a ‘Eurostep’ for a layup while pushing the pace when he grabbed his rebounds. Leonard finished with six points, five rebounds, and two assists in 9 minutes of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Leonard became aggressive when he stepped back onto the floor. He was running the pick-and-roll, grabbing rebounds and driving when the opportunity presented itself. Even though he was blocked once and didn’t connect on most of his outside shots, he had two dunks after continuing to attack the basket. On one play, he drove to the middle of the paint and thought he was fouled. When the referee didn’t call the foul he started talking to the referee about the no-call. Leonard went into the half with 10 points, missed 4-of-his-11 shots, grabbed eight rebounds, and had two assists in 14 minutes.
In the third quarter, Leonard continued to stay aggressive on the offensive end adding three more points to his total and two more assists. The one area where he struggled throughout the night was at the free throw line. Leonard earned multiple trips to the line through the course of the three quarters he played in but could only convert on 2-of-8 free throws. Normally, Monday would have been a 20-point type of night had Leonard made those free throws but instead he finished with 13 points (5-of-13 shooting), 12 rebounds, four assists, and one turnover in 21 minutes.
Joseph did not play in the third quarter but got some early minutes in the fourth quarter. Joseph finished the game with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 23 minutes. With the opportunity to be more aggressive on the offensive end, Joseph only attempted nine shots in the game though he did effectively make six of them.
Other standouts Monday were Tiago Splitter who finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists, but he did have five turnovers in 27 minutes. Aron Baynes also scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in his 16 minutes, while Nando De Colo accumulated eight points and three assists, but did have four turnovers in his 14 minutes. Training camp hopeful Corey Maggette played 21 minutes in the game but finished with just three points (1-of-8 shooting), shot only two free throws, grabbed five rebounds , and had three turnovers.
With the loss, the Spurs fall to 1-2 in the preseason. They’ll visit former assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his new team the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
We need to let Bonner go, he is a mediocre player even when his shot is falling. Trade him and a back up PG and pray on a good deal
"On one play, he (Leonard) drove to the middle of the paint and thought he was fouled. When the referee didn’t call the foul he started talking to the referee about the no-call."
I didn't realize the point being made at first, but I guess just the implication that Kawhi talked was impressive!
Leonard's free throw shooting is starting to concern me a little bit. It started last year in the playoffs and I hope it hasn't carried over. His form looks good so it must be mental. His ball handling has come a long way from his rookie year. That behind the back dribble move has become sick.
Splitter has got to stop turning the ball over. He has the worst hands of anyone on the team and his passes are telegraphed. I don't think I have ever seen Splitter win a loose ball battle.
I really like Joseph but he does need to learn how to run the offense better. He goes at top speed all the time like Parker did when he first came into the league. I would like to see him change speeds more often and control the pace but it is preseason offense.
I was hoping for more out of Maggette last night but his shots just didn't fall. I believe we should have a scorer behind Leonard rather than another 3 and d player. Our offense really comes to a screeching halt when our guards can't get penetration. It would be nice to have a wing that can drive to the basket and draw some contact.
It is too bad we live in reality and no one will give us a 1st round pick or an athletic big for Nando and Bonner in a package deal. I really don't want to see either anymore. There are two things I can't figure out. What is the meaning of life and why we still have Bonner.
Mills is no point guard but the boy can flat out shoot. With Neal leaving I would like to see him stay and take on Neal's old role. But if the right deal came along it shouldn't be passed up.
Is it the regular season yet?
Joseph scored but man I want more than 2 assists from a pg in 23 minutes. Like the solid D and he didn't turn the ball over, just want to see more assists from him. Boris, Tiago, Nando and Kawhi all had more assists with the same (about) minutes, except for Nando who only played about 14 minutes. Then again, PM didn't have one assist in his 6-7 minutes. And, then again, it's sloppy pre-season play.
Maggette really needed another solid night to show he is consistent. That was a pretty cruddy display. He didn't help himself.
Kawhi's 12 rebs is just sick in 21 minutes. This kid could get a triple double this season with points, rebs and assists-and I wouldn't count out the possibility in his career of a couple of old Spur Alvin Robertson quadruple doubles.
I'm liking Baynes' aggression and production on the boards in the time he's getting and his offensive efficiency. I'm thinking he's much more comfortable now after watching a lot, playing a little last season and then playing summer league. Would be nice to have a weapon like him banging and backing up Tiago.
Liked the fact Boris grabbed some boards. Wish he'd taken more shots. That's part of the problem I have with a shoot first point guard-other guys don't get the touches they need. I think for that second unit to really flourish there has to be a distributor and right now, that distributor is Manu coming off the bench. That could work in stretches in the regular season, but if Manu is dinged up in the playoffs, would be so much better to have a guy who can distribute coming off the bench so Manu or Marco and the 2nd unit can function well.
Ayers and Marco are just going through the growing pains of learning the system and fitting in. Not worried about them.
Nando is doing all he can to get traded. I still stick to my theory on 2 of the backup pg's going-and Nando being one of them. From the Spurs (and our perspective) who are legit championship contenders, he's not a fit. If we were rebuilding and there was no Marco and no Manu-we'd say, "we have a poor man's Ginobili as our 6th man. He's a combo guard. Decent, sometimes flashy, but needs to take better care of the ball."
Nando has potential. He needs playing time and patience. I am sure that he along with either PM or Joseph would be enticing to a team that is rebuilding: Two young guards who came out of this system and have upside. If a team has time to wait on them to develop-that's a win for them.
I just don't see him having any place on this team. #Tradebait
ON THE SPURS PREVIEW ON THE NBA TV THE 2 BARON SAID SPURS LOSE TO THE LOB CITY IN THE 2ND ROUND AND 4TH IN THE WEST....I THINK THEY NEED TO MARK THAT IN THEIR MOUTH....LMAO
@MarkCubanisaDouche I agree with you on the need for a backup 3 who can score. The 2nd unit offense is rather one dimensional.
I no longer say 'can't happen' when it comes to trades. There have been some very weird trades over the years, especially when a team is looking to dump salaries or realizes their season is over before the trade deadline and they just start moving guys.
I don't even think we need an athletic big. Just a big body who can grab some boards. Kurt Thomas, when we got him, is a good example of the kind of vet guy I think we need coming off the bench. Thomas was on the downside of his career but he was smart and physical. That kind of guy would have been helpful last year against the Heat.
I think Bonner and one of our backup pg's could get such a guy if the cap #'s matched.
I still think the backlog we have at the 1/2 and the needs we have dictate some moves. When, I'm not sure.
Guys have to hit shots when Corey passes to them for it to be an assist. Plus, that unit looked offensively challenged. I thought Corey did exactly what he needed to do.
I want to be done with Nando as well, but I am not sure he has any trade value.
@SCOLFIELD1421 it starts with B Griff for LAC. He needs to show more than he is just a dunker if that team wants to make any serious noise in the West.
@Coxcr20 I think he does. He's a young guy with length and a combo guard really. The thing is for him to be successful he has to get playing time and on this team with TP and the guys we have at the 2, that's not going to happen. I think there are probably teams that frankly suck or some team that has the opposite problem we have, a lack of depth at the 1/2, that would take him. Heck, I'd take a 2nd round cash and a gym bag for the guy.
The alternative is to eat his salary and send him back to Europe because that boy is not going to hit the floor unless TP, Manu, Marco and PM or CJ all have season ending injuries in the next game.
And we know how Nando handled losing his PT last season-whined. To the media.
Keep him on the bench and don't let his trade value diminish by having him over-reach whenever he's on the floor because he's desperate, ship him off for a #2 pick and that gym bag.
@Coxcr20 Joseph is like TP when TP was young: Looks to shoot first. Guys do have to hit shots but the thing I keep seeing in Joseph is looking for his shot first, sometimes forcing shots in traffic and missing the open guy. I would prefer experience behind TP if this is TD's last run, or next to last run
@jojo707 @gymbear @Coxcr20 I see your point jojo. I think to be honest I'm just not sold on Joseph. I didn't like the pick when it was made and I just don't like what I see. I think for me it has to do with the championship window closing rather soon. I'd prefer a solid veteran at that backup pg. Joseph would have to really, really improve a LOT this season for me to feel he's ready to handle The Big Moments. I didn't like what I saw of him against the Heat. If he was serviceable, Pop could have rested TP a few minutes more each game. TP was flat exhausted the last 2 games. His legs were mostly gone.
@Coxcr -Gortat was someone I have thought of as well. I certainly don't see him being content to play on another awful Phoenix team at this stage in his career. That would be a coup to get him. Not sure though what Phoenix would want-probably a high price tag.
I think Baynes is going to be fine. He is what he is. I don't look for a lot from him but his rebounding #'s per minute have been solid and he's shooting a high percentage. I think he's still thinking a lot too-but he'll be fine. That said, like our pg situation, would prefer a vet big during this TD era who is more comfortable in his skin, knows his game and is consistent.
@gymbear @Coxcr20 Last year, he didn't look for his shot. This year he has obviously been told to be aggressive offensively. He and Kawhi have to get comfortable with the new freedom they have been given. That's much of what I saw. They both were thinking too much, even though they were being aggressive. Give them 4 more games of freedom and they will get familiar with their extended roles and more shots will fall. The assist for CJ will come, but often he is on the floor with Manu, or Nando, or now MB, and they like to have the ball in their hands.
I'm fine with our Back up PG situation. Joseph proved more than serviceable vs the heat and I feel like he is getting better. The big glaring needs is a stopper in the middle. There just are not many guys available to us. Maybe a trade scenario would work out later in the year. I have a feeling Varejo and Gortat may be available at the deadline. I woudl like either of those guys. I am not sold on Baynes. Just seems bad on offense and he doesn't block or alter that many shots or stand out as a rebounder.