Will D-League Alum Cory Joseph Get More Minutes in NBA Finals?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs guard Cory Joseph only played two minutes in game one of the NBA Finals, but his time in the D-League this past season suggests he's mature enough to handle more.

Though Danny Green committed a critical foul on Ray Allen to put him at the free throw line and give the Heat a chance to narrow the gap in the closing minutes of game one of the NBA Finals, the Spurs still managed to pull away victorious.

Ironically enough, Green also happened to be a big reason as to why San Antonio was able to keep the pace with Miami early on in the contest. The guard finished with 12 points in his team's 92-88 win, knocking down the long bombs to help keep his team afloat.

For his efforts not only this postseason, but the regular season as well, Green has garnered quite the reputation as the perfect complementary player alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.

Green's become exactly the type of player most current D-League athletes aspire to move on and become due to the boost he provides his team with. Could a fellow NBADL soon join him in such high regard?

Plenty of young NBA players often get discouraged if they receive a D-League assignment. They shouldn't. Frankly, it's an opportunity to gain some experience and hone their skills even further. Luckily for Cory Joseph, he chose to seize such a chance and thus, has gone on to thrive in the D-League for two straight seasons now.

Emerging as a minor league all-star this year, Joseph averaged 19.4 points (on 46% from the field and 48% from deep), 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals through 26 contests for the Austin Toros. It was in the D-League that Joseph began to learn how to lead an offense and find his teammates in the right spots.

He returned to San Antonio during the regular season, going on to fill in comfortably for the likes of both Parker and Ginobili as they sat with respective injuries.

Joseph earned trust from the Spurs' coaching staff by not only asking to be assigned to Austin, but also proving that his hard work was paying off once he returned to the NBA level.

Spurs' head coach Greg Popovich was perhaps more open to experimenting with and exploring different lineups during the regular season. With the coach resting his key players to eventually play for an NBA title (as they do now), younger players like Joseph had the chance to get more burn in the meantime.

Still, that was then and this is now. The NBA Finals are here, and that means it's time to officially let the older dogs loose to effectively pounce on the opponent.

In addition to playing Tony Parker nearly 40 minutes on Thursday night, Popovich also opted to allow Ginobili to act as point guard and run the offense while Parker did manage to get a breather. Thus, Joseph only played a total of two minutes during game one.

Even so, he could still stand to receive more minutes and be trusted as the series goes on. Having already appeared in 14 postseason contests this year, Joseph averaged a steady 10.6 minutes off the bench and shot 47% from the field while averaging 3.4 points and 1.3 assists.

With more experience, Joseph improved quite a bit this season. He's an efficient player, and as his numbers suggest, he's a very solid "per minute" option.

A time like this is undoubtedly when a team likes to allow skilled and proven veterans lead the way. Still, Joseph's on-the-court maturity has been incredibly impressive this season. There's no reason why he isn't more than capable of filling in (in a punch) if need be. His time in the D-League this past season is proof, and provides him with that necessary credibility.

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