As the NBA Summer League enters the third round of tournament play in Las Vegas, the San Antonio Spurs hold the eighth overall seed with a 3-1 record. With most eyes focused on Dejounte Murray, as well as rookies Derrick White and Jaron Blossomgame, a different name has been the talk of the town.
Bryn Forbes, a second-year guard who went undrafted one year ago out of Michigan State, is making waves as his skills continue to develop.
Coming out of Salt Lake City as the Utah Summer League’s leading scorer, the 23-year-old has been one of the most consistent offensive threats in July. Averaging 29.3 points per game as the league leader in Las Vegas, has Forbes exceeded his own expectations?
“In some ways, yeah,” Forbes told reporters on Wednesday night. “I just didn’t really know what to expect from myself, but I knew I put in a lot of work, so I expected good things. But I didn’t know how our team was going to be.
“I knew our coaching staff pretty well and what they had been telling me for all summer, the things I need to do out here, but I think once I got to play with the team a little bit I was like, ‘Okay.’ I started to feel it a little more. I love playing with these guys.”
Having only played in 36 games in his rookie year, Forbes has “worked his ass off” over a busy summer to improve his game and earn some more minutes. Predominantly a pure scorer, the 6-foot-3 guard has made it a priority to add more to his repertoire.
“I think that’s the weight room,” Forbes said of his newfound versatility. ”Ball handling. Everything I put in this summer. Conditioning. Everything I put in, I think it’s starting to be able to control it more. Control the things I’m doing more than I was able to years past.”
Being a part of a perennial winning organization such as San Antonio doesn’t hurt his case, either, and Forbes is a big believer that he’s headed down the best path possible.
“I trust our staff and our coaches with my life, so it’s like, whatever they think the right thing is to do, I’mma do exactly that,” he said.
Will Hardy, an assistant alongside Gregg Popovich, is the head coach of the Spurs summer league team. Through seven games between Utah and Las Vegas, he’s already seen Forbes’ confidence growing with each night.
“He’s a very skilled offensive player,” Hardy said. “I’ve said before, it’s not just catch and shoot. He’s got a nice game off the bounce. He’s really good off the ball. He’s tough to guard because he can get in a lot of different ways.
“I think our big guys have done a really nice job of screening for him and getting him free. When he gets it going, everybody’s looking for him.”
Simplifying the game helps a ton when you’re trying to find a flow. When asked about why things have slowed down for him, Forbes agreed with his coach.
“My teammates are doing great too—on the defensive end, on the offensive end, setting picks, rebounding,” he said. “Everything they’re doing is making everything for me a lot easier.”
Three times, once in Utah and twice this past week in Las Vegas, Forbes has eclipsed the 30-point mark. This includes back-to-back games with 35 to lead the Spurs to victory in each. He’s averaged four assists and a little over three rebounds to go along with 1.3 steals per game as well.
As San Antonio continues to move on in the tournament, he doesn’t see much of that changing for him.
“I don’t think there’s a fall-off,” Forbes said. “This is all of the work I’ve been putting in and I think when you put a lot of work in, you get out of it what you get out of it. You get what you give to the game.”
Hardy doesn’t see any signs of slowing down, either.
“He’s continued to stay aggressive and he’s in a good rhythm right now,” he said. “His mindset’s really good on that end.”
Forbes’ dedication off the floor has definitely played a factor in his success, but nothing can substitute being on the hardwood like live action. It’s something he missed dearly before summer league started up, and now he’s got the chance to showcase his talents in front of everybody.
“It was fun just being back out here,” Forbes said. “I hadn’t got to play all summer, five-on-five or anything like that, not even one-on-one. It was just like workouts and lifting and all different types of stuff. It’s just fun to be back out playing.”
It’s been a pleasure to watch, Bryn.
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