It would probably be fair to call Casper Ware an underdog. At 5’10, the Detroit Pistons point guard is the shortest player to get an invite to the Orlando NBA Summer League, but he hasn’t let that stop him from competing.
“I just play hard, play with my heart, you know?” Ware said. “Most people don’t like to get active and do the dirty work, but that’s what I have to do because of my size.”
He certainly does get active. At 5’10, Ware’s height would seemingly be a problem defensively at the NBA level, but he excelled at that end on Monday. Ware was a pest to ball-handlers, frustrating his defensive assignments all game by crowding their space and giving them no room to dribble or pass.
Though his stat-line didn’t stand out (five points on 1-5 shooting, four rebounds), his defense was undeniably effective, and his quickness and ball-handling skills were also evident.
“I had an alright game,” Ware said. “I didn’t hit my shots, but I think I controlled the game well. I penetrated for my teammates sometimes. So when my shots start falling I think my all-around game will be good.”
Hailing from tiny Long Beach State, Ware is no stranger to tough competition. Though the 49ers weren’t in a power conference, their coach made sure they got to face tough opponents every year.
“I really don’t see a difference in competition [here in Orlando] because my coach scheduled big time schools like Kentucky, Duke and Louisville,” Ware said. “So I’ve seen a lot of these players already, it’s just getting used to seeing it all the time.”
But once he gets used to the competition, Ware believes he is in a good position to contribute to a team, perhaps Detroit in particular.
“I think I fit in good because the Pistons like to get up on people and play defense,” Ware said. “That’s my style, getting up and down the court running, so I really feel like I fit in with this squad.”
If Ware finds an NBA home, it will be with a team that appreciates defense, toughness, and the ability to shoot from deep. And perhaps one that appreciates a good underdog story.