Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Brooklyn Nets – Game #53

The San Antonio Spurs entered the game against the Brooklyn Nets looking like a tired team. After 48 more minutes, not much had changed. The Spurs had moments here and there where they looked alive but it was clear they didn’t have enough gas in the tank to compete. When the final buzzer sounded, the Nets had a 123-103 victory.

San Antonio kept pace in the first quarter. Heading into the second period, the good guys were down 33-30. But after the Spurs scored just 18 points in an anemic second quarter, the game was essentially over. The Silver and Black tried to muster enough energy for a run in the third quarter but it didn’t materialize. The fourth quarter wasn’t competitive.

All in all, it’s difficult to figure out a way the Spurs can get back to the win column until their collective energy level recovers.

Stats: Spurs at Nets

Spurs at Nets – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

While a lot of players are lacking energy right now, it’s Wembanyama’s malaise that is hurting San Antonio most right now. In the first half against the Nets, Wembanyama didn’t have a rebound, block, steal, assist or even a foul. Those numbers paint the picture of how tired the rookie is playing. Offensively, Wembanyama got going a bit in the second half. He exhibited a promising amount of range on his three-pointers and eventually got going in other facets of his game. But, yeah, the rookie wall is unavoidable — even for a phenom like Wembanyama.

Grade: C-

Devin Vassell

With Wembanyama low in energy, Vassell didn’t do a good job of picking up the slack. He was only 7-for-20 from the field and only shot one free throw (and that was a technical free throw). Scoring 17 points on 20 shots isn’t going to get it done, especially when San Antonio is desperate for production. Playmaking-wise, Vassell was okay-ish but wasn’t making life easier for teammates. He had a few strong defensive possessions but didn’t move the needle much on that end, either.

Grade: C-

Jeremy Sochan

Sochan was far from great but he was able to limit the negatives. Defensively, he was active and impactful. Offensively, he finished without a turnover in 29 minutes. Sochan handled a bit of the ball-handling and playmaking duties and finished reasonably well. His three-pointer is looking really rough right now, though, which is causing spacing issues as opponents continue to back away.

Grade: B-

Tre Jones

It’s understandable for a player like Wembanyama to struggle with energy after hitting the rookie wall — but Jones doesn’t have an excuse for such a lackluster performance. Three shot attempts, two assists and two turnovers in 28 minutes? Yeah, no, that’s not close to a satisfactory level of output. As the numbers suggest, Jones wasn’t pushing the pace, making plays for others or finding ways to penetrate the paint. His defense was also just as sleepy. Jones should be the player in the starting lineup ensuring that the team always plays with electricity. Instead, he was part of the problem in Brooklyn.

Grade: D-

Julian Champagnie

Champagnie’s hold on his starting spot has to be slipping at this point. After another forgettable performance against the Nets, he has now scored in single-digits in ten straight games — despite starting all ten contests. That’s obviously not good enough. Playing with more urgency on both ends of the court would really help Champagnie’s cause. Especially with Doug McDermott gone, the Spurs need an aggressive floor spacer. Right now, that’s not Champagnie.

Grade: D+

Keldon Johnson

Johnson wasn’t great but he was the only player on the Spurs who played with a notable amount of desperation. With teammates going through the motions, Johnson kept trying to make things happen. Offensively, he was efficient shooting-wise and kept his mistakes to a minimum. Defensively, he was more focused than usual. Overall, more playmaking would help San Antonio’s cause — but, then again, it didn’t appear like Johnson had many players come along for the ride.

Grade: B+

Malaki Branham

The good: Branham wasn’t passive on offense. He shot the three-pointers he needed to shoot. His passing was fine. The bad: The two big issues with Branham right now is he’s playing the role of a sharpshooter even though his three-point shot doesn’t look good and his defense is a liability. He’s now below 30% on the season from deep — and it doesn’t look like a fluke. Branham’s three-pointers are flat and don’t have the type of rotation you’d expect from an NBA player. Defensively, he has to figure out a way to be able to compete.

Grade: D

Blake Wesley

Even when he’s surrounded by comatose counterparts, Wesley is still able to spark the Spurs. It’d be helpful if he looked for his own shot even more but he’s doing a lot of good offensively. He led the bench with three assists, didn’t record a turnover and had a ferocious dunk in transition. Defensively, he rarely takes a possession off and is already the best on the team at pressuring the ball and playing the passing lanes.

Grade: B+

Cedi Osman

Osman did pretty good in his 12 minutes. He was aggressive looking for his shots, really helped on the boards and tried to get the team going out in transition. His rotations on defense left a bit to be desired but he wasn’t the leading problem in that department.

Grade: B

Dominick Barlow

Barlow got a dozen minutes and stuffed the stat sheet with seven offensive rebounds. Truth be told, though, Barlow got a number of those boards due to missing point-blank layups. However, he deserves credit for getting to the line for a team-high six attempts and for his overall amount of tenacity. I don’t know what it’d take for Collins to lose the backup center spot in the rotation — but we have to be nearing that point, right?

Grade: B-

Zach Collins

Collins couldn’t have been a whole lot worse than he was against the Nets. He got himself in foul trouble during his seven minutes of action. He turned it over twice, missed both field goal attempts and didn’t look like a capable rebounder. With Wembanyama dealing with the rookie wall, it’d be nice if Collins stepped up. That’s not happening.

Grade: D-

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Mamukelashvili got four minutes of garbage time at the end of the game. Honestly, his nonstop movement was a breath of fresh air.

Grade: Inc.


Is the lack of energy Pop’s fault? Not in the case of Wembanyama but the coach should have veterans like Jones and Vassell ready to play. The majority of the team sleepwalking isn’t a good look for the coach. Rotation-wise, there are a lot of question marks right now. Should Champagnie keep starting? Should Collins or Barlow be the backup center? Should Branham be playing? Pop has decisions to make.

Grade: D