Spurs’ Cory Joseph Preparing For His Shot
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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While it may seem like the San Antonio Spurs are all in for a championship run this year with their core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker aging, they’re keeping a very mindful eye towards the future. Although Duncan and Ginobili continue to defy age, the Spurs front office knows that the time is going to come where they hang it up and call it a career.
Typically when you lose players of that stature it can be devastating and the rebuilding process afterwards can be long and grueling. However, the Spurs are preparing for the next era while making the most of the current one. Second year small forward Kawhi Leonard has gained extensive experience just a year and a half into his professional career and has been deemed by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich as their next star. The 25-year-old Danny Green has earned a spot in the starting lineup as well and is currently averaging a career-best 9.8 points a contest.
Their 2011 first round pick Cory Joseph, a point guard who left Texas after his freshman season, has not been able to crack the rotation as they have. However, the Spurs are heavily investing in him as well.
In 2007 the Spurs bought the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. It’s now a valuable asset of theirs that they use to develop front office personnel, coaches and players. One of those players is Joseph.
Joseph has played in just 38 games as a Spur up to this point in his career, averaging eight minutes of action. During that same period of time he’s played 24 games with the Toros, but during those he’s played an average of 35 minutes while being a starter and featured option.
“Playing time is key.” Joseph said to HOOPSWORLD. “Getting 5-on-5, you can work out as much as you want but there’s nothing like getting game experience and leading the team.
“It’s good to get experience, lead the team and hopefully get more victories.”
The Toros, 9-9 overall, have won three of their last four with Joseph, who has upped his scoring average from 15 as a rookie to 19 as a sophomore while grabbing 5.8 rebounds and dishing out 4.8 assists.
While Joseph is the only NBA assignee on the team outside of some occasional appearances from rookie Nando De Colo, he is not the only player of note. His teammates Rick Jackson, Tyler Wilkerson and Justin Dentmon are some of the top prospects in the league and candidates for call-ups.
“They’re great,” Joseph said. “These guys play hard. They make my job much easier. They have my back and I have theirs.”
A strong supporting cast around Joseph is critical, because the overall level of talent in the D-League is better than it has ever been.
“The D-League is good,” Joseph said.” There’s a lot of talent like you see here. There are a lot of guys who can play, have the potential to play in the NBA or did play in the NBA. This league is unbelievable.
“I’ve learned a lot. From the Spurs, all the way from playing here in the D-League. I’ve learned a lot from last year. I matured a lot. My game has matured a lot, but there’s still a lot to learn.”
Joseph will continue to bounce back and forth with the Toros this season as minutes are hard to come by in the Spurs’ backcourt. The D-League is where he gets his minutes, and that has helped keep his confidence intact.
“I’m not sure when my time is but all I know is I’m trying to prepare myself,” Joseph said. “When my time does come I’ll be ready to go.”