Point of Interest: The Battle For Back-up Point Guard
So I heard that the San Antonio Spurs are thin in the back-court. With the 2012-13 training camp in full swing, perhaps the most intriguing battle on the Spurs depth chart can be found at backup point guard. No less than four players have a legit chance to secure the backup Point Guard duties.
Patty Mills: Mills does have a score-first mentality, but that’s fine when he’s running the second team with Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson. Leading the Australian squad, Mills led all the Olympics with a scoring overage of 21.2 points. He’ll learn the pick-and-roll chemistry with Tiago Splitter and find the three-point shooters in the corner and it’ll work beautifully. Mills is definitely the fastest point-guard out of the four.
Nando De Colo: Is he a point guard or a shooting guard? For the moment it’s unclear where Spurs want to play him. It is worth noting that De Colo has experience playing with Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. My guess is that he will end at the SG spot and that the idea behind his signing is to groom him as a Manu Ginobili replacement.
Cory Joseph: In five summer league games, he averaged 17 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds, while shooting 47.8% from the field and 40% from beyond the three-point arc. The key for him is to convince enough Spurs in training camp to have his 2013-2014 option picked up. Nonetheless, his defensive upside is intriguing though.
Gary Neal: He took over the back-up point-guard duties once T.J Ford was forced to retire in middle of the season he’s a below average ball handler and passer for the position. He also struggled bringing up the ball when teams started pressing up the court. Opposing point-guards’ eyes light up whenever they Neal because he struggles mightily on the defensive end. However, he’s one of the best shooters in the league.
Gregg Popovich might want to experiment will Neal again in the back-up point guard role. But if he doesn’t like what he sees, Neal should be used as a pure shooting guard, where he can just focus on catching and shooting.
Prediction: It’s hard to predict what Gregg Popovich will do. But based on how last season ended and the fact that Neal started at point during the Spurs’ scrimmage three days ago, I think Neal is the favorite to land the back-up point guard role at the start of the season.