Through 4 games of NBA Summer League action I would qualify Bryce Cotton's play as up and down.
In Game 1 on Friday against the Sacramento Kings, who are sporting former Friar Marshon Brooks on their Summer League roster, Cotton started slow coming off the bench in the first half as it looked like he was more concerned with distributing and showing his chops as a point guard. He may not have gotten the memo that NBA Summer League is a time to be a little selfish and take as many shots as possible. He also may not have been used to limited minutes. In the second half of that game Cotton moved off the ball on offense and was able to get things going. His play in the 3rd quarter is arguably what led to the scoring run that put the Spurs ahead in the game for good.
For the game, Cotton connected on his first three shots from the field, including a 4-point play after being fouled while shooting a long ball. He also made a number of good passes that did not end up as assists because his teammates failed to convert the open looks. I'm looking at you Austin Daye!
Cotton's line for Game 1: 16 minutes, 12 points (3/4 FG, 1/2 3P, 5/5 FT), 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 steals, +12
Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and 1st overall pick Andrew Wiggins was more on the down side of things for Cotton. Playing well in the first game earned Cotton a start in Game 2 and he saw an extra six minutes in this game. Unfortunately, he was ice cold from the field and got torched on defense by Will Cherry who is one of the few players shorter than him in the entire league. The Spurs as a whole did not play particularly well and ended up losing the game by 12.
Cotton's line for Game 2: 22 minutes, 3 points (1/6 FG, 0/4 3P, 1/2 FT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, -20
Despite his poor shooting in the second game, Cotton got the start in Game 3 against the New Orleans Pelicans. This was a close game throughout and the former Providence Friar was even responsible for hitting three clutch free throws late in the game. But again, his defense struggled as fellow undrafted rookie Russ Smith took advantage of Cotton at times. Overall, he struggled from the field again but had some nice passes that did not result in assists.
Cotton's line for Game 3: 18 minutes, 5 points (1/6 FG, 0/2 3P, 3/3 FT), 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, +6
Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks saw the Spurs run out to a 31-19 first quarter advantage and never look back. Cotton started his third straight game but played only 13 minutes. He shot the ball better and his overall defense was much better but it was a small sample size in only those 13 minutes.
Cotton's line for Game 4: 13 minutes, 6 points (3/5 FG, 0/1 3P, 0/0 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal +15
Going 3-1 has qualified the Spurs as the 12th seed in the Championship bracket which means they will take on the 5th seeded Utah Jazz Thursday at 6:00 PM ET.
On the positive side of things, the deficiencies displayed by Cotton so far are things that the Spurs already knew would be an issue when they signed him to that partially guaranteed two-year contract. And I think he has shown enough on the shooting and distribution fronts to prove that he does have a role on an NBA team.
The question is, will there be enough room at the Inn for Bryce Cotton on the Spurs?
Heading into the Vegas Summer League there were two open roster spots. On Monday it was announced that the Spurs were re-signing veteran Matt Bonner to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum. That means there is now just one open spot on the Spurs roster which puts Cotton in a precarious position. I do not like his overall chances, but if there is anything I have learned over these years of rooting for and following Bryce Cotton, it is to never count him out.