San Antonio Spurs: In Need of a Backup Point Guard to Step Up

Behind potential MVP candidate Tony Parker, there appears to be huge instability for the backup position.

Though not a glaring need for the San Antonio Spurs, the dropoff in the point guard spot is dreadful after Parker. Going through multiple players throughout the season and now interested in free agent Mo Williams according to recent rumors, the team is clearly looking at all options for the position.

They have only gone through one backcourt change this offseason so far, which was swapping Gary Neal for Marco Belinelli, but that didn’t really help a lot in the areas they were lacking, which was a solid floor general to keep the offense in rhythm while Tony rests. There are currently three candidates on the roster for the job, but they all have more to prove next season to actually get it.

Patrick Mills: The Australian scorer himself. Known for putting his mark on the towel-waving technique on the sidelines, it looks like that’s pretty much where Mills’ most noticeable contribution will be next year. He finds himself somewhat in the mold of Gary Neal as a shooter who struggled as a distributor, but for Mills it’s much worse since he’s also four inches shorter than Neal at 6’0″. Averaging 3.4 assists per 36 minutes in the regular season, the passing part of his role never really worked out. He’ll most likely be used as a situational player when the Spurs are in need of some offense. He’s super quick and and shot 46.9 percent from the field, which can help in spot minutes and garbage time to keep the opponent at bay. The only way Mills can reasonably win the position is if he learns more about running the offense but, unless he undergoes a total makeover in that skill, it seems for now that his role is already pegged.

Nando De Colo: Time may be running out for De Colo quicker than the others to make a case for backcourt rotation minutes. Going from being called the backup point guard by coach Gregg Popovich midway through the season to not even suiting up for the majority of the playoffs, he publicly stated his frustrations with the team about the lack of playing time. Though the Spurs aren’t a team to usually tolerate bad mouthing, De Colo’s complaints are understandable and it’s always a good thing for a player to want the playing time to prove himself. He didn’t help himself out much in the summer league either, shooting 34 percent overall and 22 percent from 3. Outside of one 19-point game, he averaged only 8.6 points in the rest of the games. What he has going for him is that he did a decent job as the playmakers when given the role on summer league, averaging four assists and overall just setting the tone of the offense. He’ll need to show more than that though in order to get an increase in minutes. Hopefully that anger in him will produce more effective play in training camp and the preseason.

Cory Joseph: Right now, it looks like Joseph is the man who holds the backup point guard position. He was often mentioned for his willingness to play in the D-League, actually asking coach Gregg Popovich to send him to Austin so he can keep playing high minutes. He was given his chance to be a rotation player after Parker went down in early March with an ankle sprain and capitalized on it. But as the playoffs got deeper, he saw his minutes decrease and the point guard duties were given to Gary Neal when Parker was out of the game for the most part. He had a decent summer league outing, averaging 10.25 points and 4.5 assists to go with a game-winning shot against the Charlotte Bobcats, but the issue with him is that his shooting stroke is still off. He only averaged 28.6 percent shooting in the regular season on a Spurs team that loves to open up 3-point opportunities. A decent ballhandler and defender for a player approaching his third year after needing a lot of development, Joseph now needs to prove himself as shooter to take his game to the next level and get his steady minutes.

Tags: Cory Joseph Nando De Colo Patty Mills San Antonio Spurs

  • Micah Galindo

    Out of the options at hand, I think I prefer Mills. With Manu being the de-facto point guard for the second unit, I think it helps to have the other guard be able to hit open shots and create offense for himself to take the pressure off Manu. Mills does these two things the best in my opinion. He also is an underrated man defender and does a great job of putting pressure on the other team’s ball-handler (as does Joseph). None of the above are great options, but I believe that if given the opportunity, MIlls could be the best player of the three.

    With that said, I think Pop will try to experiment with a Manu/Belinelli backcourt… which will be, well, interesting.