With four out of seven exhibition games in the books, the Spurs are a little more than halfway finished with their preseason. Though it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from a set of games featuring more minutes from Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo and Eddy Curry than Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, Express-News beat writer Jeff McDonald gives it a stab:
De Colo is part Argentine
He’s French, and he plays a little point guard, but that’s about the only similarity rookie Nando De Colo bears to Tony Parker. Where Parker emerged from the womb a scoring guard, De Colo at times seems allergic to shooting. Oh, but can he pass. De Colo’s slick assists — he’s averaging a team-best 4.8 per game — remind many Spurs of a young Manu Ginobili. With the Spurs jam-packed at both guard positions, De Colo is likely to begin the season at the end of the bench. If he ever does crack the rotation, however, get your popcorn ready.
Eddy Curry is hungry
No, not that kind of hungry. Hungry for a job. At 7-foot, 295 pounds, Curry arrived at training camp as in shape as he can be. The former fourth overall NBA draft pick has been a model camper, clearly motivated to resuscitate his career after appearing in only 24 games the past three seasons. Curry can still score, having notched double-digit outings in two of the Spurs’ four preseason games, but won’t help much in the rebounding or defensive departments. If he doesn’t earn the Spurs’ 15th roster spot, he’s bound to help some team this season.
There’s talent at the bottom
The Spurs don’t always carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season. But with NBA-experienced big men Curry, Josh Powell and Derrick Brown all providing positive moments, this is a year the Spurs might wish they could keep 17. Curry has size and offensive skill, Powell is averaging seven points on 9-of-10 shooting, and Brown has showcased his athleticism and enough versatility to defend small and power forwards. At this rate, cut day could come down to a high-stakes game of “eeny, meeny, miney, moe.”
Neal gets the point
In the race to become Parker’s primary backup, the incumbent holds a narrow lead. Gary Neal has been the first point guard off the bench in each preseason game, averaging a team-best 13 points while also contributing 2.5 assists and keeping his turnovers in check. More important, Neal — a shooting guard by trade — has done a credible job of running the second unit. Patty Mills, Joseph and De Colo can be expected to keep pushing Neal. If the season began today, however, he’s the backup point.
Size matters (maybe)
It hasn’t happened often. If you blinked, you probably missed it. But twice in the past two games, coach Gregg Popovich has deployed a lineup using 6-11 Tiago Splitter alongside 6-11 Tim Duncan. It is a Twin Towers look the Spurs largely avoided the past two seasons but one that could come in handy against, say, the Dwight Howard-Pau Gasol Lakers in the regular season. Stay tuned.
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