Quite a few Austin Spurs are making a name for themselves in the NBA offseason.
Led by Bryn Forbes, who averaged 23.4 points per game for Austin last season, the Spurs wrapped up the first of two summer league tournaments in Utah last week, finishing 1-3 in the four-team event.
Forbes then led the Spurs to their first win of the Las Vegas tournament on Sunday, setting a new summer league record by scoring 35 points. The Spurs beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-95.
“I’m just enjoying having the ball in my hands right now,” Forbes said. “I’ve worked a lot on ball handling, so that was a major part of it.”
Forbes was the stand-out performer in the three-game, four-team league in Salt Lake City last week, averaging 21.3 points in three games and outperforming the likes of No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum.
The Spurs lost to the hosting Jazz in Utah before beating the Boston Celtics on Day 2 and dropping the finale to the Philadelphia 76ers on Day 3. They lost 75-74 to the Miami Heat in the first game of the Las Vegas tournament before Forbes had his dominant performance on Sunday.
Most of the teams competing in Las Vegas didn’t have the Utah Summer League games to use to gain some momentum cohesion on the floor.
“We kind of already got the first-game jitters out,” Forbes said. “We’re able to feel each other out over four games instead of just one. We know what each other does now and can play to each other's strengths. I’m excited to get back out there and play.”
Forbes isn’t the only Austin player on the roster with the Summer League team. Dejonte Murray, Jeff Ledbetter, Livio Jean-Charles, Davis Bertans, and Corey Jefferson all have the chance to impress the parent club this summer.
But Forbes wasn’t always on the NBA radar.
Not heavily recruited and overshadowed by his high school teammate Denzel Valentine, who was a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls last season, the Lansing, Michigan native played two seasons at Cleveland State.
But he reunited with Valentine when he transferred to Michigan State before his junior year. Because of family hardship, he was granted a waiver by the NCAA to avoid sitting out a year and ranked No. 4 in three-point shooting (.427) in his first year with the Spartans.
San Antonio summer league head coach Will Hardy said there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to Forbes’ game and he is more than a one facet scoring option.
“His energy is infectious,” Hardy said. “He’s showing everybody that he has a variety to him and he’s not just a catch and shoot guard. He’s had it all along, but he hasn’t been able to showcase it. He works really hard and we look forward to building on it.”
The NBA Summer League has had countless stars shine brightly against the up and coming talent right out of college, or the newly renamed G-League, and flop with the parent team in the NBA.
But the Spurs’ way suggests a different path.
Kyle Anderson was named league MVP after the 2015 competition and has been a role player for San Antonio ever since. And Jonathan Simmons spent two seasons with Austin before his summer league performance earned him an NBA contract.
“I just want to be ten times better than last year,” Forbes said. “Everything they’ve taught me, I just need to do it to the best of my ability. Everything we learn here is the right way to do it and I just want to stick to the Spurs way.”