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San Antonio Spurs

Takeaways from Spurs summer league slate

AP Photo/John Locher

The San Antonio Spurs ended Summer League play with an even 4-4 record, getting knocked out in the tournament quarterfinals on Saturday by the Portland Trail Blazers.

Bryn Forbes’ offensive brilliance was the main story from the team’s eight-game schedule, but a few other storylines also emerged.

Let’s break down four key takeaways from the Spurs’ Summer League slate.

Forbes will be an NBA rotation player

If you watched any of the Spurs this summer, you probably saw Forbes playing extremely well. His game has progressed in all areas since we last saw him as an end-of-the-bencher for the Spurs’ A team.

Forbes tossed in 24.2 points in 29.2 minutes per contest at Vegas on a strong 58.4 true-shooting percentage. He got his points scoring at the rim, in the mid-range area and from behind the 3-point arc — shots from downtown are still his specialty, though.

He was the focal point of San Antonio’s offense almost all the time he was in, and opponents treated him as such. He brings the off-ball gravity that many of the best shooters in the league have.

You can read some more of my thoughts on Forbes here, but he’ll play a rotational role at some point in his career, whether it’s 2017-18 or later.

Dejounte Murray isn’t a starting-caliber point guard …yet

Murray will likely be the Spurs’ starting point guard to begin the regular season. Patty Mills is the better player right now and will likely earn more minutes than the second-year pro, but his role with the bench unit is important.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, Murray didn’t show the polish in Summer League that the team probably wants from its starter.

He played just four games before San Antonio sat him to care for a tweaked ankle. The numbers in those contests were abysmal — 6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.5 turnovers in 19.3 minutes per game on a 30 true-shooting percentage.

Murray didn’t hit a 3, and his drives were often forced and out of control. His dribble was high and easy to poke away. In an environment where many fans expected him to dominate, he was far from dominant.

The good news for San Antonio is that he’s still only 20 years old. Point guards at that age often look overmatched at any NBA level of play.

And Murray did show some positives, too — he made several advanced passing reads, he pounded the glass and he wreaked some havoc as a defensive playmaker.

San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) drives as Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, left, defends during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) drives as Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, left, defends during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game Wednesday, July 5, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Derrick White is fine, but the Spurs should’ve gone big in the first round

White, the Spurs’ No. 29 pick in last month’s draft,was decent in Summer League despite an ankle injury that sidelined him for two games. The combo guard posted 11.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.3 minutes per contest, though his true-shooting percentage (46.3) and turnovers per contest (2.3) weren’t ideal. He’ll probably be a consistent rotation player for most of his career, and he could become a starter for some team at some point.

I just have a strong suspicion that the 23-year-old rookie won’t be good enough to justify the Spurs picking him at No. 29 when two solid big men were on the board. Jordan Bell and Jonah Bolden were two of my top targets for San Antonio before the draft, and both were available when San Antonio picked.

Both Bell and Bolden looked good in Summer League, showing the excellent defensive versatility in the frontcourt that San Antonio so badly needed last season. They’re also younger than White.

White has a lot of competition at the two guard spots with the Spurs. Mills, Murray, Danny Green, Forbes, Brandon Paul, possibly Manu Ginobili and definitely Tony Parker, when he returns from his quad injury, will compete with White for minutes.

Meanwhile, the Spurs’ current depth chart at power forward and center has some question marks. LaMarcus Aldridge (if he stays) and Joffrey Lauvergne will play at those two spots, Rudy Gay should play the 4, and Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans are 3/4 tweeners. Even if Pau Gasol returns, he’s old and can’t guard anyone who makes him move laterally.

There was definitely room for a young, versatile defensive presence to add as a potential front court starter down the line. San Antonio didn’t need an offensive-minded combo guard quite as much.

No one (besides Forbes) was a surprise standout

Summer League participants Bertans, Murray, White, Forbes and Jaron Blossomgame (on a G-League contract with the Austin Spurs) will all be a part of the Spurs organization this fall.

However, no one else should be confident of a sure spot. Outside of Forbes, there was a whole lot of inconsistency in the team’s eight-game slate.

Livio Jean-Charles continues to show little to no development in his game since being drafted by San Antonio in the first round four years ago. Cady Lalanne, a Spurs second-rounder from two years ago, finished pretty well around the rim in limited burn. He also committed 8.8 fouls per 36 minutes.

The best player outside of the sure roster guys was probably Cory Jefferson (7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game), but he recently signed a deal with Olimpia Milano in Italy.

There could be someone the Spurs saw enough from in Summer League to give a two-way contract to — maybe Olivier Hanlan, Cleanthony Early, Shayne Whittington or one of the aforementioned names. However, don’t expect any Gary Neals or Jonathon Simmonses to emerge with San Antonio’s A squad this season.

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