Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves – Game #59

Another game, another similar loss for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were hanging with the Minnesota Timberwolves until Victor Wembanyama went to the bench for a rest. By the time he returned, the Timberwolves were in control and on their way to a leisurely 114-105 victory.

At the end of the first quarter, San Antonio trailed 29-21. Things remained bleak for the good guys in the middle two quarters. In the fourth period, the Spurs went on a halfhearted run that only accomplished making the final score look competitive. 

All in all, this outing wasn’t too much of a surprise. The T-Wolves are atop the Western Conference due to a suffocating defense and their defense was legitimately really good against the Spurs. Add in an extra amount of sloppiness by the Spurs and San Antonio’s 22 turnovers proved to be fatal. 

Stats: Spurs at Timberwolves

spurs timberwolves grades

Spurs at Timberwolves – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

To start off the game, Wembanyama was great. In his first seven minutes, he had eight points and four rebounds while dominating the action on both ends of the court. Wembanyama’s production slowed as the game progressed but he still put up a whole lot of crooked numbers. On one hand, the rookie relied on three-pointers too much, turned the ball over too often, didn’t play good post defense and fouled too much. On the other hand, Wembanyama was still playing at a high enough level to give the Spurs a shot against one of the better teams in the association.

Grade: B

Devin Vassell

Vassell played well during his 39 minutes on the court. Offensively, he was able to put points on the board even though his three-point shot wasn’t accurate. His drives to the basket and his ability to pass on the move were very valuable. Vassell is flashing quite a bit of playmaking ability, which makes his future more exciting. Defensively against the T-Wolves, he rebounded well, he played the passing lanes and he competed in one-on-one situations. 

Grade: A-

Jeremy Sochan

Ugh. It’s difficult to find evidence that Sochan actually played basketball in Minnesota. In 16 supposed minutes, he tallied no points and no rebounds. His defense was ineffective and his inability to shoot made him a liability on offense. It was just an ugly, low energy outing by Sochan. Let’s hope he has a bounce back game soon because he hasn’t looked like an NBA player in his last two games.

Grade: F

Tre Jones

The good: Jones was 5-for-5 from the field, including an attempt from three-point territory. His hustle on the boards and in loose ball situations was helpful. He authored a few heady passes. The bad: Jones, the steadiest hand on the Spurs, was making bad decisions left and right. The result was six turnovers and a handful of other ruined possessions. And while it was nice that he didn’t miss a shot, Jones needs to be more aggressive on offense. He’s not very good when he’s a super low volume player who is timid in the playmaking department. Defensively, Jones wasn’t too good in Minnesota outside of his hustling. That alone doesn’t make a valuable defensive player.

Grade: C-

Julian Champagnie

Champagnie still has a lot to prove in terms of being a starter in this league … but he was better against the Timberwolves. Defensively, he was active and had a number of strong possessions. Offensively, he finished off plays better. More outside shooting would be helpful but it’s a good sign that he’s becoming less and less one-dimensional.

Grade: B

Keldon Johnson

After getting benched and only playing four minutes last game, Johnson reacted well against the T-Wolves. In 34 minutes, he poured in 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Johnson did most of his damage from downtown, as he finished 5-of-11 from three-point land. That’s the most threes he’s hit in a game since Dec. 8. Johnson didn’t have much success inside the arc but his passing was better than usual and his movement off the ball was better. Defensively, he was much more locked in. Johnson made mistakes on both ends but the mistakes weren’t a matter of lacking concentration. 

Grade: B

Cedi Osman

Offensively, Osman was productive. He was aggressive from the first moments he hit the court. His activity was beneficial for himself and his teammates. Osman’s work in transition was especially impactful. Defensively, though, he had a lot of problems. Both his man-on-man and help-defense responsibilities went unanswered more often than not. For Osman to be a helpful player, he can’t only play one end of the court.

Grade: C-

Malaki Branham

Branham is slowly but surely becoming a dependable bench weapon. He has now scored in double-digits in five of his last six games. In his last five games, he is 12-for-21 (57.1%) from three-point range. If Branham can knock down threes, handle a little bit of playmaking, be effective off the dribble and play even a modicum of defense, he can be a useful player. For the most part, he did that in Minnesota.

Grade: B+

Zach Collins

Being Wembanyama’s backup in an unenviable role because you’re always going to look human in comparison. But Collins is making things worse for himself by playing so bad. Against the T-Wolves, his rebounding was poor, his defense was poor, his passing was ill-advised and his decision-making was scattered. Collins has to play better for the Spurs to have a chance to win. His role on the team is still too important for him to consistently lay eggs.

Grade: D-

Blake Wesley

Wesley’s effervescent energy has evaporated. He’s just not doing much of anything. He has a total of ten points in his last four outings. He’s not attacking the paint or hitting jumpers. Wesley’s playmaking was missing in action and his defense was sleepy. This comatose version of Wesley isn’t worthy of a spot in the rotation. Hopefully he snaps out of it soon.

Grade: D

Pop

I didn’t mind the playcalling. Turnovers and stout T-Wolves defense were what stymied the Spurs on offense. Rotations-wise, I disagreed quite a bit. I thought Mamukelashvili deserved a shot after playing well in the previous game. I don’t like splitting point guard duties between more than two players — that just results in a lot of unevenness. Watching the Spurs die on the vine when Collins comes in is getting old. Pop has to figure out something to at least attempt to counteract that nightly occurrence.

Grade: D