The San Antonio Spurs coaching staff made a change for Thursday’s scrimmage against the Milwaukee Bucks. Head coach Gregg Popovich wore a mask and observed from the bench. In his place, assistant coach Becky Hammon coached the team as they played their first organized game at the NBA bubble. While the team suffered a thumping in their first scrimmage, Hammon spoke about the effort going forward into the restart and her role.
Hammon Critical After Spurs’ Scrimmage Loss
The Spurs’ scrimmage against the Bucks ended up as a 113-92 loss but was yet another learning experience ahead of games that will count within the next week. The team featured a unique starting lineup with DeMar DeRozan shifting to power forward, while Derrick White and Dejounte Murray manning the backcourt.
Lonnie Walker played 24 minutes in the loss and recorded 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting. The backcourt of Murray and White had a combined 24 points, eight assists, and seven boards in their effort.
The main goal with the scrimmages is experimenting, along with player development. That’s similar to the goal head coach Gregg Popovich revealed ahead of any games during the restart.
“If you want to take a positive, there wasn’t a lot, nobody got hurt,” scrimmage coach Becky Hammon joked after the loss. “We just didn’t play well.”
Hammon also noted that being able to get back to the court together was a positive in terms of “getting back to some normalcy.”
The Spurs are down several roster members at the bubble. Starting big man LaMarcus Aldridge is out due to shoulder surgery. Trey Lyles recently had an appendectomy which ruled him out even though he’s on the official team roster. So the different lineups and rotations will address these issues.
There’s still room for improvement, though. Most people expect sloppy play from guys that were away from the game for a number of months. Hammon still pointed out the main issue the team struggles with.
“We didn’t have any carry-over from what we’ve been doing in practice. The ball stopped moving and we just got real passive defensively,” she said after coaching the scrimmage. “That’s an issue. That’s been an issue for us all year.”
Hammon Says Scrimmage Was About Players, Not Her Growth
The Spurs ranked No. 24 in the NBA in terms of Defensive Rating as well as points allowed per game. That was prior to the NBA suspending the season and still quite evident during Thursday’s loss, especially during the second half.
As mentioned, there will be a lot of experimentation in terms of lineups and what they’ll work on with the Spurs. The remaining two scrimmages and upcoming “restart games” should provide more of that. They’ll also help players become reacquainted with the game and one another.
Teams are playing scrimmages against other squads from the opposite conference. That means they won’t meet up in restart games, with the only possibility an NBA Finals matchup. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols even reported some head coaches were having discussions with one another about things they want their players to work on in these scrimmages.
Becky Hammon won’t coach every scrimmage and isn’t expected to be coaching the restart games. Per ESPN’s Malika Andrews, the Spurs will be rotating coaches over the next several games. Based on previous reports, Tim Duncan won’t be coaching at the bubble as he was said to be staying behind to assist with LaMarcus Aldridge’s rehabilitation efforts.
Every Spurs game that Becky Hammon is at the helm for is a major learning experience. Still, she made it clear this wasn’t any sort of move by Pop to help her prepare for a future head coaching gig.
Even so, it’s believed she could be the future coach of the Spurs when Pop leaves. If not, then as head coach for another NBA team, possibly making history as the first female head coach.
“Obviously, there are growth opportunities but right now it’s about our guys. It’s about their growth, not mine essentially,” Hammon said.
Next up, the San Antonio Spurs take on the Brooklyn Nets. They’re another team that has a lot of roster changes and experimenting to deal with as they’re without key players. That game takes place from the NBA bubble on Saturday afternoon.