Ex-Texas Longhorn and former San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. Ford knows what it takes to make it in the NBA. The highs, lows, the battles and just trying to fit in with the right team at a high level is taxing on young players.
And this struggle wasn't lost with Cory Joseph.
Cory saw himself drafted after one year with Texas, then found himself buried on the bench, playing spot minutes for San Antonio and then racking up mileage between San Antonio and Austin to play with the D-League Austin Toros.
Needless to say, this took a toll on Cory last season and it shook him emotionally to the point that he second guessed himself according to his fellow Texas alum Ford.
"Cory, yeah, did he get down on himself? Did he second guess himself? Yes. And that's why you gotta have a good support system to continue to keep you working. And that's what is great about the San Antonio Spurs organisation. They keep guys mentally focused and they encourage you and they help you."
This is totally understandable for any young player in the league. Joseph jumped from college to the pros just after his freshman year in Texas. He went from being "the man" to minor role player.
However, after a solid showing in the NBA playoffs last season backing up Tony Parker, improving his defense, and impressing at the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League (and not to mention leading Team Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament), Cory's days of second guessing himself look to be coming to a close.
There is no doubt he will have to fight for minutes next season with the way the Spurs current roster is packed with guards. However, his summer play might give him the edge he needs to solidify the backup point guard role next season.
Since his rookie season, he has gone from just 9.2 minutes per game to 13.9 last season. Granted, the increase in playing time was due to Parker's injury last season but that might have been what was needed for Cory to show he does belong at the NBA level and shake off any self doubts.
And if he keeps making strides in the right direction, he could be seeing himself a regular rotation player, and full of confidence.
(via Sports Mole)
cojo is a prime example of why some of these young guards ahould stay a year or two longer but i think he is infact the answer to backup pg, as long as we have a solid 2 guard.. i like him, he's young, smart and his defense is great. not too athletic but who on our team is, save for KL.. playing him with bellinelli would be ok, or playing hm with manu could work as well... i think we have one more run left in us.. but i also think this is timmy's last season and probably Ginobili's last as well... who do we put around KL to continue to compete?
I can't put my finger on it, but I just don't see Joseph as the answer. Even during summer league when he put up points in games (and rebounds) there were other things he did that really bothered me: Turnovers, not dishing to guys who were wide open, shooting with 2 guys on him and not hitting the open guy-and this was against tier 2, tier 3 competition. His summer play against countries that don't produce NBA players doesn't really tell much either about his growth. To me, the question is: Can he drive the bus against an OKC or a Miami or the Clips or Bulls (all who will be or are very good defensive teams) and handle that pressure and make sure the starters can rest and the second unit keep producing? Or, worse case scenario, if TP went down for an extended period with an injury, can he run the team? I'm not sold on the first scenario, and absolutely not sold on the second. If TD and Manu and TP were all 5 years younger, I'd say, 'be patient with the guy' but the window for the Big 3 is closing and that's why I think the Spurs need veteran pg help behind Tony during the Big 3 era before it closes. With Joseph and De Colo and Mills I think the Spurs have the potential to package one or more of those guys with Matt Bonner and trade another to address two glaring needs: Reliable backup point play and a vet big who can bang and grab some boards. Right now at the 4/5 the Spurs are putting a lot of hope in Baynes and Pendergraph turning into that reliable big but I have the same questions about both of them when it comes to playoff time. To me it's all about maximizing depth while the window is open, and it's closing in when TD retires.
I had my doubts when he was drafted as well. Those initial doubts have been lessened substantially after his showing last year, summer lg, and now at FIBA. He has indeed come a long way. If he continues his improvement and has a good camp, I think he will lock up the b/u PG position. Now, if we could only pair him up with another Longhorn..LM Aldridge would be nice.
CoJo has made strides certainly. He showed flashes at Texas, but they had another guard who dominated the ball. If he would have stayed another two years at Texas Spurs would have had no shot at drafting him in my opinion. He would've gone much higher. Anyway, he has a never give up style on offense, but mainly on defense. even if he gets broken down or passed by an opposing driving guard, he stays in the play and doesn't get deflated. He hustles and plays with heart. We are so used to seeing TP's speed, but CoJo is showing he too can drive and maneuver into the lane. I like his progress this summer no doubt, though I am not too surprised. He has TP as an excellent mentor and example. Now he can just visit Austin instead of having to go for work.