The San Antonio Spurs didn’t start off preseason play in spectacular fashion, to say the least. Going up against a ragtag Oklahoma City Thunder squad, the Spurs trailed throughout before losing by a final count of 121-108. Thankfully, there were a few silver linings that were spotted here and there.
Aldridge wasn’t bashful about shooting three-pointers, which is encouraging news for the Spurs. He was 3-for-10 on threes in 25 minutes — a good sign that he’s willing to continue to spread the floor. Overall, the 35-year-old was moving relatively well and didn’t show much rust.
The good: DeRozan’s playmaking was on point. He was getting into the lane with ease. The bad: His finishing was poor and his defense was even worse.
Gay was good in the bubble and that version of Gay was on dispay Saturday night. His outside shot looks smooth and he appeared to be slimmer (and quicker) than usual.
Oof. Murray came out with a ton of energy but only a few ounces of competence. He wasn’t running the offense well, called his own number too often and was unable to complete possessions on either end. Thankfully, he got better as the game went along and eventually exhibited a few pounds of point guard acuity.
Poeltl started at center and it’s difficult to complain about his production. He rebounded well, guarded the paint with purpose and was a lot more aggressive than usual on offense. When the Spurs looked capable on D, it usually involved Poeltl playing a pivotal role in the middle.
It was an impressive debut for San Antonio’s lottery pick. Vassell’s defense instincts are as good as advertised. He can guard large swaths of space and his processing speed in terms of reading and understanding what the offense wants to do is exquisite. Offensively, he showed that he’s more than just a one-dimensional player. The coaching staff put the ball in his hands and he was able to make plays.
Lyles had a forgettable night at the office. He was 1-for-9 from the floor, with a couple of his three-pointers failing to come in contact with the rim. His passing was pretty good and he was moving his feet okay but just about everything else was sub par.
Mills has been threatening to unleash FIBA Patty on the NBA and he made good on that threat tonight. He poured in 24 points in 20 minutes and was one of the few Spurs who was conclusively awake in the first half. Without him, things would have been even more disastrous.
Lonnie Walker IV
Not a whole lot for Walker to be proud of against the Thunder. His defense oscillated between being poor and really poor. He had a couple strong moments on offense but he was rarely willing to put his stamp on the proceedings.
To get Samanic on the court, the coaching staff played him out of position at small forward. The result more often than not was unsightly. Defensively, he was too often out of position. Offensively, he was rarely in spots to do anything positive.
Reynolds looked okay out there. He didn’t do anything to help or hurt his stock too much. He continues to look like a decent-to-good G League prospect.
Jones didn’t play until late but he passed the eye test as a fierce defender who is quick with the ball and able to run an offense.
Eubanks is another player who didn’t enter until late in the game. His one shot attempt was a three-pointer, which is worth noting.
Bates-Diop actually got some minutes in the first half … and he looked pretty good. The guy is longer than a bad week and has enough skill to tease.
So, all training camp we hear about the Spurs wanting to play faster and modernize their approach offensively. Then the first preseason game comes and Pop starts Murray, DeRozan, Gay, Aldridge and Poeltl, perhaps the slowest, most prehistoric lineup imaginable. Huh? That lineup would have been slow 20 years ago. Let’s hope it was just a meaningless preseason experiment.