Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Summer League Game #1

The San Antonio Spurs lost their first game of the 2022 NBA summer league against the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 99-90. The Spurs played reasonably well in the first half but things went sour in the third quarter, a period that saw Cleveland outscore San Antonio 30-17.

Joshua Primo
29 minutes, 20 points, 5 assists, 3 turnovers
7-for-12 from the field, 5-for-7 on threes, 1-for-2 at the line

Primo’s final statistics look remarkable but it was actually an underwhelming performance for the second year player. With the Spurs down by 18 points with 3:40 remaining, Primo turned up his aggression level and scored 11 points down the stretch. Before that, though, he was much too passive. He was obviously trying to be unselfish by constantly relinquishing ball-handling duties — but his passiveness was actually putting his teammates at a disadvantage.

I was impressed with Primo’s court vision throughout but his ball-handling was suspect at times and the precision of his passes was sometimes wonky. Going forward, the Spurs summer league team needs Primo to be aggressive from the opening tip.

Grade: C

Malaki Branham
28 minutes, 15 points, 3 rebounds
6-for-15 from the field, 2-for-6 on threes, 1-for-1 at the line

The Good: The amount of work Branham has put into his game is unmistakable. His footwork and the physicality of his moves are beyond his years. His ability to create looks in the midrange is exciting. I also thought his passing was better than advertised.

The Bad: Branham’s defense has a long, long way to go. On the other end, while he shot six three-pointers, he passed on a couple others he should have launched. The main question with Branham is his athleticism and whether it’s at a high enough level for him to thrive in the NBA. He looked a little bit stiff at times in his first summer league game but obviously it’s way too early to jump to any conclusions.

Grade: B

Blake Wesley
31 minutes, 20 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers
7-for-16 from the field, 3-for-4 on threes, 3-for-4 at the line

It was clear that Wesley was the best player on the court for the Spurs, particularly in the first half. His burst, accelerated change of direction and fearlessness are all game-changing traits. Sure, Wesley was out of control at times in his summer league debut but San Antonio needed him to put the pedal to the metal due to the timidness surrounding him. Passing-wise, he had a handful of advanced kickouts that he didn’t consistently show at the college level. Defensively, he utilized his otherworldly athleticism to apply pressure.

Wesley needs a lot of work on his ball-handling and needs to learn how to finish but it’s already clear that he’s a prospect with vast potential. If he can be a knock-down three-point shooter like he was against the Cavaliers, that’d really help his chances.

Grade: A

Dominick Barlow
21 minutes, 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 fouls
3-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 at the line

Barlow is a big man project but he looks worthy of being a two-way player. He moves well, his jumper appears to be functional, he’s athletic around the rim and plays hard. Barlow was in over his head at times going against by far the best competition he has ever faced — but he didn’t back down. It’ll be fascinating to see his growth during summer league.

Grade: B

Robert Woodard II
14 minutes, 2 points, 5 rebounds
1-for-7 from the field, 0-for-3 on threes

Woodard didn’t help his cause. He was pressing the issue whenever he got the ball — with mostly negative results. His perimeter skills looked raw. His dribbling was shaky and he seemed to be rushing his jumper. Woodard will need to play better to further his NBA career.

Grade: D

DJ Stewart
22 minutes, 7 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers
3-for-4 from the field, 1-for-1 on threes

Stewart was steady across the board. With a lot of inconsistency on his team, he was the steadying hand who was dependable on a possession to possession basis. His passing was pristine and his decision-making was usually right on point. If the coaching staff really wanted a win, Stewart would have played more than 22 minutes.

Grade: A

Darius Days
19 minutes, 11 points, 7 rebounds
5-for-7 from the field, 1-for-3 on threes

Days is a big dude but he flashed an interesting amount of skill. He’s burly enough to do work in the paint and his jumper looks like it’s for real — which is a combination that makes him an intriguing prospect. His lack of mobility was an issue at times defensively but otherwise he was really good in his debut.

Grade: A-

Jordan Hall
16 minutes, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
1-for-4 from the field, 1-for-4 on threes, 1-for-2 at the line

No, that wasn’t Kyle Anderson out there. That was Hall. While he plays a similar style to Anderson, the 6-foot-8 guard is less flexible and maybe even less athletic. He clearly has a high basketball IQ and his shooting stroke is fluid but he’s going to have to show he can move better if he’s going to make it in the league.

Grade: C+

Javin DeLaurier
10 minutes, 3 rebounds
0-for-1 from the field

DeLaurier is a physical specimen at about 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds but he didn’t illustrate much basketball skill against the Cavs other than an ability to hit the boards.

Grade: C

Josh Carlton
8 minutes, 2 points
1-for-3 from the field

Carlton, another big man getting minutes due to Jeremy Sochan being out for the summer league, had an impressive blocked shot and he moved his well for a guy who looks like he’s pushing 250 pounds.

Grade: B+

Mitch Johnson

Primo’s late-game jump in intensity was partly due to Johnson getting on him. Hopefully Johnson can keep prodding Primo and the others to play aggressively throughout. Rotation-wise, I didn’t have any complaints.

Grade: B