- ESPN - Marc Stein discusses the Spurs decision to go all-in during the offseason. I especially enjoyed Manu Ginobili's quote at the end of the article.
- ESPN - John Hollinger released his PER projections for the entire league. I thought it was interesting that his projections only have the Big Three topping 15, which is supposedly the league average. Insider only.
- SLAM - SLAM is counting down the top 50 NBA players and Tony Parker checks in at number 15.
- 48MoH - The Spurs lost their first preseason game but DeJuan Blair's 16 points and 19 rebounds in 22 minutes were all anybody could talk about. Timothy Varner discusses Blair's game and his potential.
- Express-News - Mike Monroe discusses Ian Mahinmi. Interesting quote by Antonio McDyess wondering why he hasn't heard more about Mahinmi. One word, fouls.
- 48MoH - Graydon Gordian discusses how the Spurs front court might shape up. This is something I looked at earlier this summer and I agree with Gordian that this year's group of big men is much more similar to the groups at the beginning of Pop's tenure.
- Express-News - Buck Harvery compares Ian Mahinmi and DeJuan Blair. Mahinmi, who he describes as a player built in a lab, just seems like the odd man out to me in the long run. It's a shame because he has the potential but the basketball instincts just aren't there.
- Ball Don't Lie - Kelly Dwyer lists the top ten players of the decade and Tim Duncan comes out on top. Dwyer is one of the smartest basketball writers out there and I have enjoyed his lists. Maybe it's because the Spurs have dominated them.
The San Antonio Spurs took on Olympiakos from Greece in San Antonio and it was a reunion of the "Big Three" of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. Olympiakos came into the game with some familiar players such as former Hawk Josh Childress, former Nugget Linas Kleiza and former NBA player Von Wafer.
The Spurs started the game with Keith Bogans, Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, Richard Jefferson and Tony Parker. However something was very noticeable, Tim Duncan in a knee brace on his left knee. We all know TD suffered knee issues last season so this is something to keep an eye on the rest of this season.
With that out of the way, the Spurs did win their first preseason game beating the team from Greece 107-89 moving to 1-1 in the preseason. It was good to see the Spurs "Big Three" back on the court together. Manu, Tim, and Tony did play limited minutes with a combined 51 minutes on the court. Tim and Tony did not play in the second half while Manu played the most of the three with 20 minutes scoring 7 points, 5 assists and 2 steals. Tim finished with 10 points and Parker with 12.
So how did the new guys and the young players look? DeJuan Blair did not duplicate his stellar NBA debut but did manage to score 9 point and 2 rebounds. This should be expected from a rookie learning the ways of the NBA and this inconsistency from him should be expected. Plus Olympiakos had a 310 lb. player, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, to clog the middle. George Hill was the leading scorer for the Spurs with 17 points and looked comfortable leading the team. He even cut down on his turnovers with just one in the game. That's something nice to see from a young point guard in the NBA. Even Marcus Haislip got into the act and had a highlight worthy pass to Hill for an easy bucket at the rim. Haislip befuddles me. He has the height and build of a center but plays like a small forward. Surprisingly Ian Mahinmi did not pick up a single foul while in the game and managed to score 7 points and grab 2 rebounds. Are pigs flying? Quick! Check outside!
Making their Spurs debuts were Antonio McDyess and Theo Ratlliff. In 17 minutes McDyess scored 4 points and grabbed 5 rebounds while Ratliff had 3 points, 1 block and 2 rebounds.
Again the final score Spurs 107, Olympiakos 89. Click here for the complete boxscore.
The Spurs next preseason game will be this Sunday against the Miami Heat in Miami.
Some observations on the game:
- Good to see Pop give the main players some more minutes as the season nears. Still would like to see Parker's minutes managed tightly since he did have a long summer playing ball.
- Manu did get 20 minutes in the game but did look rusty and his explosion to the basket is lacking. Could be because he is taking it easy or just still getting back in game shape? Hopefully it has nothing to do with his nagging ankle injuries.
- Spurs D held Olympiakos to 43% shooting
- Every player on the current Spurs roster got some time on the court.
- Playing for Greece was big man Ioannis Bourousis. Spurs were rumored to have signed him in the off-season but he turned down their offer. Though he did say when he does come to the NBA he wants to be a Spur.
By Dan Ehrlich, Contributor to Project Spurs
Before you contact the Project Spurs editors to wonder about this new contributor’s credentials or allegiance to the wrong NBA team given the dubious heading of this article, hold your horses and read on. Rest assured there is no error here. This is indeed an article on the Spurs written by a huge life-long fan from across the pond -- London, England. It concentrates on an area in which many of our younger fans may not know the Spurs have been one of the pioneers in.
The role of foreign players in the NBA has been immense in the past couple of decades, and if anything, only continues to grow. The draft has now become an event which involves teams selecting and attaining rights to talent from overseas just as much as it is about plucking the best American players from colleges around the country. Yao Ming (China), Andrew Bogut (Australia) and Andrea Bargnani (Italy) have been the No. 1 draft picks in this very decade. Ming and Bargnani never even officially played ball in the U.S. before being selected (Bogut played college at Utah). This all just proves how much impact the international game now has on the best league in basketball. There is also no doubt that Team USA’s struggles in the past few years in international competitions (2002 World Championships, 2004 Olympics and again at the 2006 Worlds), despite fielding great players from around the league, only served to drive the point home.
The Spurs have embraced the international game more than most teams in the league. After all, two of the team’s "Big Three" are from overseas. Tony Parker was an unknown 19-year old, even back in Europe, when selected at No. 28 in 2001. Manu Ginobili was selected at No. 57 back in 1999. We all know how great these players have become - three of the four championship banners would most probably not be hanging in the rafters of the AT&T Center without their contributions. There were of course others who have made contributions (to various extents) over the last decade – Francisco Elson, Fabricio Oberto, Rasho Nestrovic, Beno Udrih, Shane Heal, Hedo Turkoglu, to name but a few.
But what is less known and mentioned these days, is the fact the Spurs have been one of the trail blazers of the international game in the NBA. Back in the late 80’s, foreigners were a real rarity in the league. In fact, in 1989, the year David Robinson arrived on the scene and changed the franchise forever, there were only a total of five foreign-born players who hadn’t attended college in the U.S., and all five arrived from Eastern Europe. Very few teams put an effort to scout players overseas those days. One of those very few teams, though, was indeed the Spurs. And perhaps even more interesting is that two key personalities that helped kick-start the wave of import of international players were Gregg Popovich and RC Buford.
Popovich and Buford were both assistant coaches on Larry Brown’s Spurs team back then, and one of select few that paid serious attention to basketball talent offshore. It all started when Pop was given permission by Bob Bass (then Spurs GM) to scout the Euro Championships in the summer of 1989. A few weeks later, Pop came back from the tournament together with one of the best talents of European basketball, Zarko Paspalj.
From that point, other players came from overseas and played for the Spurs, and although none of them had as big an impact as Parker or Ginobili later on, they provided the grassroots for the development of international players not only for the Spurs organization, but for the NBA as a whole. Below I’ve provided a quick run-down as to who these players were and what they have done for the Spurs.
However, one should remember these guys less for their stat lines, and more for their influence years later. Gregg Popovich and RC Buford always maintained that some of those players were ahead of their time – the NBA was simply not ready yet, and coaches were also reluctant to give these players a real chance. Pop and RC’s ability to see what foreign talent can potentially bring to the table, and to wait for the right time to deliver their well-planned strategy - this time as much more influential people in the Spurs management ladder – paved the way for repeated use of the Riverwalk as a popular venue for NBA championship parades.
Height: 6' 9"
Origin: Serbia / Montenegro (Former Yugoslavia)
Spurs Stats (1989-1990): 23 Games Played, 2.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.3 BPG
Paspalj is probably considered the real pioneer of the Spurs’ true “foreign legion”. As mentioned above, Pop plucked him out of the 1989 Euro Champs after scouting there for the Spurs. Paspalj was already well known in Europe at the time, being a member of the strong, up-and-coming Yugoslavian national team.
Larry Brown played Paspalj very little in his only season with the Spurs (1989-1990), hence his not very impressive numbers. He also apparently played very little defense, not really helping himself playing for a defensive-oriented coach like Brown. Interestingly, when converting his numbers to 36 Minutes-Per-Game averages, perhaps one can see the potential he had – 14.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.4 BPG. Granted, it’s not necessarily a sound conversion, given that his actual minutes were probably played in garbage time, but there is still something to consider.
Paspalj was cut by the Spurs right before the 1990 playoffs to make room for Mike Mitchell who, ironically, played in Europe during that very season. He went back to play in Europe and became a full-fledged star in league competitions (both Yugoslav and Greek leagues) and nationally, winning multiple Gold medals with Yugoslavia. Popovich and Buford both claim that had Paspalj come to the NBA later on (he was only 23 when he arrived in the US), he would have been able to contribute significantly.
Although his on-court contributions were not significant, Paspalj was still popular in the locker room. In fact, he had a song written about him by Terry Cummings, “Mark of Zarko”. Another interesting fact is that when he arrived in Texas in the summer 1989, he stayed at Popovich’s house for a period. Somehow I can’t see something like this happening now in the NBA.
Height: 7' 0"
Spurs Stats (1989-1990): 13 Games Played, 1.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG
Welp’s stint with the Spurs was a very short one in the first part of the 1989-1990 season. His NBA career actually started a little earlier though. After enjoying great success in college basketball, becoming the all-time leading scorer for the Washington Huskies, he was selected by the 76ers in the 1987 draft. He played two seasons in Philly before being traded to the Spurs during the 1989 off-season.
However, as was the case with many of the other international players at the time, he got very little chance to prove himself in a Spurs uniform and barely played. He eventually got traded in the midst of the 1989-1990 season to the Warriors. His NBA career finished not long afterwards.
Height: 7' 1"
Spurs Stats (1989-1990): 7 Games Played, 2.1 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Blab joined the team in February 1990, as part of a trade deadline deal with the Warriors for… Chris Welp! It seems that when the Welp project failed, the Spurs simply tried it all again with another talented German center.
Blab actually played in the NBA since the mid 80’s after being drafted by the Mavericks back in 1985. He also played college basketball for Indiana prior to that.
All said, he appeared in only 7 games for the Spurs, and was waived after the 1989-1990 season.
Height: 6' 10"
Spurs Stats (1994-1995): 23 Games Played, 1.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG
Nwosu only played with the Spurs for one season (1994-1995) and averaged a mere 3.7 minutes per game. He actually went to Liberty University in Virginia, but was never drafted.
Nwosu is actually more known for what he has done outside the NBA. Amazingly, he played in 14 different countries in his career! He won the Russian league with CSKA Moscow, the French league crown with Orthez, and even a couple of cup competitions in the Philippines, before trying his luck in Romania, Syria and Iran. I suspect he would give anyone a run for their money as far as passport stamps are concerned.
Height: 6' 7"
Spurs Stats (1998-1999): 19 Games Played, 1.1 PPG, 0.3 APG, 31% 3-pointers
Gaze is still considered Australia’s most successful basketball player. He was well known to be an extremely prolific 3-point shooter with good passing skills to boot. He was one of the leading figures of his Australian team, Melbourne Tigers, and also played for his home country in a staggering five Olympic games.
His experience in the U.S. game started already back in 1989, when he played for a Seton Hall team that reached the NCAA final. However, he did not get his chance in the NBA until later on. He had a very brief stint with Washington (then Bullets) in the 1993-1994, before going back to play down under.
In the 1999 lockout-shortened season, he came back to the U.S. and joined the Spurs. Unfortunately, he was injured for part of that already-shortened season, so never had the real chance to display his famous shooting stroke. He did not make the Spurs playoff roster that year and as a result did not fully participate in the ensuing thrilling title run. However, the Spurs, being the classy organization it is, still gave Gaze a championship ring!
What are your thoughts on the Spurs being pioneers in scouting foreign talent? Leave us your comments.
Every year around this time, Jeff over at Celtics Blog organizes a NBA preview with bloggers from every team. Our Spurs preview article will be up Saturday, but here's the full list of Atlantic Division Previews.
New Jersey Nets
New York Knicks
I try to resist the draw each time. I tell myself that it's not worth it. That it will only result in heartbreak and disgust. That the last time was really the last time. Of course both you and I know that last time was not the last time. I'm like a lover that won't go away. Or an alcoholic.
At least my drug - potential - is not as harmful.
Each year the Spurs have a new case of potential. This year it's more pronounced than normal. Ian Mahinmi. DeJuan Blair. Marcus Haislip. That's not even including the overseas potential with James Gist. In the past it was James White, Beno Udrih, Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson. The names, positions and styles change but the irresistible nature of potential stays the same.
My dilemma is one based in rationality. I know that each of the players, despite their potential, is a long shot to become an integral part of the Spurs for a number of reasons. Only 450 basketball players can fill roster spots at a given time, which is a very small number in regards to the number of professional basketball players around the world. The NBA is for the elite basketball players, not just those that are good. Numerous experts time and time again have stressed that the players who make the NBA typically have one skill that they are exceptional at such as three point shooting, defense, rebounding, etc. A player who is mediocre or even good at a number of skills is less likely to make and stay in the NBA than a player who is exceptional at one skill.
The difficulty of making a NBA career is even more pronounced with the Spurs. It's no secret that Pop prefers to sign and play veterans. Just look at how long Jacque Vaughn stuck around and actually saw time on the court. If Pop has the choice of developing a young or raw player or playing a proven veteran who might not have as high of a ceiling, he typically goes with the veteran who can contribute immediately. He has this luxury with a core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, preventing him from needing to take chances. This lack of athletic, young players was evident last year and fans universally lamented this deficiency.
I know that the chances of Marcus Haislip becoming a consistent contributor are slim. I know that James Gist is a long shot to become the athletic three/four that the Spurs have not had during the decade. I know that Ian Mahinmi is foul-prone and extremely raw, limiting his chances of sticking with the Spurs in the long run.
So why do I keep caring about these players?
Potential is an insatiable drug, tantalizingly tasty yet so very often fleeting. I watch the youtube highlights, read the articles telling me how good the player could be and follow the message boards where so-and-so is the answer to all the Spurs problems. I convince myself that Jackie Butler's high PER is indicative of a great low post player and ignore the fact that he is unproven and horribly out of shape. I see James White jump from the free throw line, put the ball between his legs and dunk the ball and envision him stuffing alley oops from Parker. I watch Beno Udrih win a Rookie of the Month award and think he is the back up point guard of the future. Three players full of potential and three disappointments.
Potential is an inately fascinating idea, tapping into the American Dream that we can somehow improve our position in society through hard work and perseverance. I see Bruce Bowen go from Cal State Fullerton and bounce around overseas, CBA and the NBA before becoming one of the best defenders in the league and an integral part of multiple championships, and I see this opportunity in every player. With hard work James Gist can develop a reliable outside shot and strong defensive skills, carving out a place on the Spurs roster. I want these players to succeed. Not only for the Spurs sake but for my sake because that reaffirms the message I have been fed since I was a child that anything is possible.
Of course I know that not anything is possible. There are limitations. Still, this potential draws me in time and time again. I grow cynical and skeptical but I know that I will always come back, drawn by the irresistable nature of potential.
Michael and Jeff talk about the Spurs first preseason game against the Houston Rockets. After a full quarter-by-quarter recap (read the full recap) we go over some of the highlights and lowlights.
Among the highlights was DeJuan Blair, or "Windex", as Jeff calls him. Blair was an absolute beast and we thank the NBA gods for answering our prayers. Among the lowlights was another post player, Ian Mahinmi. It wouldn't be a Mahinmi game if he didn't foul out and time is running out on his career in San Antonio.
After discussing the first game, which resulted in a loss, Michael talks about the open practice/scrimmage on Sunday and they close out with some news of other Spurs and former Spurs in the news.
Tonight kicked off the Spurs 2009 preseason as they took on the Houston Rockets in San Antonio. Though just a preseason game it was great to see the Spurs back in action and a chance to see the new guys in a Spurs uniform.
The heavy hitters didn't play as Pop sat Duncan, Parker, Finley, and new Spurs McDyess and Ratliff. Glad Pop didn't play Parker to give him rest and to avoid injury for him since he played during the summer for the French National Team.
The Spurs started off slow and looked out of sync. During the quarter, the Rockets went on a 10-3 run to take the lead and maintain it throughout the first quarter. However it was the rookies for both teams who were stealing the show. DeJuan Blair was a rebounding machine and Chase Budinger was showing he was also a steal in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft going 3-4 from the field.
End of first quarter: 35-26 Rockets.
Again Spurs start off slow while Houston was out and running. At one point the Rockets shot 57% from the floor while the Spurs were sloppy with the ball committing 4 turnovers allowing Houston to go on a 15-3 run on the Spurs at one point. Blair continued to showcase his rebounding prowess while Ian Mahinmi continued to show off his fouling prowess. Ian made silly fouls, and was getting beat to the basket.
The second quarter was all Houston until the Spurs went on a 6-0 run but it wasn't enough to close the gap. The 15-3 run by the Rockets and the huge edge on the fast-break points (19-2) allowed the Rockets to keep the Spurs at bay.
End of second quarter: 58-45 Rockets.
The Spurs started the second half with Mason, Hill, Hairston, Haislip and Mahinmi. Speaking of Ian, he quickly picked up his 5th foul minutes into the third quarter. Has he ever met a foul he doesn't want to commit?
As mentioned before Budinger and Blair were just showcasing their talents. Budinger was hustling and scoring from the field while Blair was just getting started. Blair grabbed his 16th rebound in 19 minutes and finished the quarter with 16 points and 19 boards. Insane!
Spurs stepped it up offensively and defensively to go on a huge run, 18-3, to tie the game at 71. But Rockets did go on a 8-2 run to end the third quarter.
End of third quarter: 79-73 Rockets.
With most of the Spurs big time players sitting, the game got out of hand and it was all Rockets. Blair did continue to board like a beast but it wasn't enough to help the Spurs pull out a win. The Rockets went on an 18-3 run and never looked back. Oh and Mahinmi fouled out of the game. I know, SHOCKING!
Final: 99-85 Rockets. Spurs fall to 0-1 in the preseason.
- Chase Budinger was impressive for the Rockets. 15 points on 7-10 shooting.
- Manu Ginobili played 13 minutes and scored 4 points going 1-4.
- DeJuan Blair is as advertised. He is a rebounding machine. 19 boards in 22 minutes. 8 of those were offensive boards.
- Spurs threw up 21 3-point shots and made 9 of them.
- Spurs had 24 turnovers.
- Spurs had 6 fast-break points.
- Shane Battier did not play for Houston.
- Rockets out scored the Spurs in the paint, 44-30
- Ian Mahinmi looked terrible and didn't impress. He picked up 5 fouls in 12 minutes. We all know it's his "make-or-break" season.
- Next Spurs preseason game will be this Friday against Olympiakos in San Antonio.
Beginning in 1999 until today, this past decade has been the golden age of the Spurs franchise. Spurs fans have celebrated four NBA titles, seen countless dramatics in the playoffs and witnessed great players to wear the Spurs jersey. Yes it has been a wonderful past 10 years for the franchise.
But with the decade about to end we here at Project Spurs would like to give you the Spurs All-Decade Team, 1999-2009. We begin today with the starters.
Center: David Robinson. This was an obvious selection. He was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1992), All-Defensive First Team ('91, '92, '95, '96), and the first player in NBA history to rank among the top five in rebounding, blocks and steals (per game) in a single season. He also led the NBA in rebounding (1990–91 season) with 13 per game and in blocked shots (1991–92 season) with 4.49 per game. He retired from the NBA in 2003 a champion when the Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals. He finished with 10,497 rebounds and 2,954 blocked shots while with the Spurs, the most by any player in Spurs history. Let's not forget he was the 1995 NBA MVP, two-time NBA Champion (1999 and 2003) and now an NBA Hall of Famer.
Power Forward: Tim Duncan. Another no brainer pick. He is a four-time NBA champion, a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a back-to-back NBA MVP, and been voted into 11 All Star games, 12 All-NBA Teams, and 12 All-Defensive Teams. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for Tim's resume. He is considered the all-time greatest power forward to ever play in the NBA, had a near quadruple-double in the 2003 NBA Finals, and hit a memorable 3-point shot against the Phoenix Suns in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.
Small Forward: Sean Elliott. Has there ever been a more dynamic player at this position than Elliott in Spurs franchise history? I don't think so. He is the all-time franchise leader in three-point field goals made and attempted. He is also the only player in Spurs history to rank in the top ten in six different statistical categories: games played (third), points (fourth), rebounds (sixth), assists (seventh), steals (eighth), and blocks (ninth). He was a two-time all-star, won an NBA title with the Spurs in 1999 and is best remembered for the "Memorial Day Miracle" 3-point shot against the Portland Trailblazers in the 1999 NBA Playoffs. He was also the first player to come back to play in the NBA after a kidney transplant and retired from the NBA in 2001.
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili. Talk about an absolute steal for the Spurs when they drafted Manu with the 57th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. Manu joined the Spurs in 2002 and helped the Spurs win three NBA championships, was an All-Star in 2005 and the NBA Sixth Man of the Year for 2007-2008. Manu is also one of only two players ever, to win a Euroleague title, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal. His style of play is defined as "controlled chaos." He plays with passion and is not afraid to sacrifice his body for the team. It will be interesting to see what the Spurs front-office does with this being his last year of his contract with the Spurs.
Point Guard: Tony Parker. Who would have ever believed when the Spurs drafted Parker at 19 years old he would have this much success in a short amount of time in the NBA. Considered one of the best and quickest point-guards in the NBA, he has helped the Spurs win three NBA titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He has been selected a three-time NBA All-Star, an All-NBA Third Team member, and was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. His fast paced style on the court has allowed him to get to the rim with ease with his signature shot of the "teardrop." Because of this, he was a leader in the NBA for 2005-2006 season for "points in the paint." In Game 4 of the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs against Dallas, he matched George Gervin's franchise playoff record for points in a half with 31. Some argue because of his performance against the Mavericks in the 2009 NBA Playoffs and leading the Spurs to the 2007 NBA championship while winning the 2007 Finals MVP, the torch has been passed from Duncan to Parker as the future of the Spurs franchise.
Talk about a devastating starting five! Please leave your comments on the 1999-2009 Spurs All-Decade team and come back later as Michael De Leon will give the Spurs All-Decade bench and coach. I wonder who he will pick as the coach?
We here at Project Spurs agree with Spurs fans that the Spurs scouting department tends to focus on talent overseas. So we took it upon ourselves to search the U.S. for a player who can make an immediate impact.
With training camp underway and the Spurs evaluating talent for this upcoming NBA season, we here at Project Spurs would like to make the case for the Spurs to sign this baller from Idaho. I mean just look at those ball handling skills he is displaying in his picture and don't let his friendly smile fool you. He has a clenched fist which means he is ready to fight and will bring toughness to the Spurs.
So without further delay, here are some reason the Spurs need to sign this guy!
He will give the Spurs many "looks."
He plays like he has "eyes" in the back of his head.
He can be an "interchangeable" player at any position for the Spurs.
Has more personality than Tim Duncan.
He resembles former Spur Bruce Bowen.
Unlike Tony, Manu and Ian, the Spurs don't have to worry about ankle injuries with this guy because he doesn't have ankles!
- Even if he removes his arms, he will still last an entire game without fouling out unlike Ian Mahinmi.
(Special thanks to John from Redsarmy.com for contributing to this post. For all your Boston Celtics news visit Redsarmy.)
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.