The San Antonio Spurs avoided going winless in Las Vegas. With a 90-87 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spurs finished summer league with a 1-4 record.
The Spurs led by as many as ten points but the Grizzlies stormed back behind the behind of Kenneth Lofton Jr, who finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks for Memphis.
However, before the Spurs could blow another summer league lead, Malaki Branham came to the rescue. The 19-year-old, who was the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, hit clutch shot after clutch shot to will San Antonio to a win.
Spurs vs. Grizzlies: Final Grades
30 minutes, 9 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
2-for-17 from the field, 2-for-8 on threes, 3-for-6 at the line
The good: Wesley was the team’s primary point guard yet he finished the game without a turnover. He was also extremely active on defense yet didn’t commit a foul. His switching on defense was lightning quick. For a majority of his game, his passing was a plus.
The bad: Wesley hit only 2-of-17 field goal attempts. His poor shooting was due to a combination of unwise shot-selection and rushing his few open looks. While he was decent at making the right passing reads in the first three quarters, his vision vanished in the fourth. For the Spurs to have a decent offensive possession in the final period, they needed to keep the ball away from Wesley.
29 minutes, 23 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers
8-for-15 from the field, 5-for-8 on threes, 2-for-2 at the line
Branham ended summer league with a bang. With the Spurs down three points with five and a half minutes remaining, Branham put the team on his back. Down the stretch, he scored 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting, including four three-pointers. His first three three-pointers tied the game, while his fourth three-pointer gave the Spurs a two-point lead they never relinquished.
Prior to that late-game flurry, Branham was having a tough time. His ball-handling was loose and he was timid more often than not. Thankfully, though, Branham kept his head up and delivered when the Spurs needed him most.
26 minutes, 16 points, 3 rebounds
7-for-10 from the field, 1-for-2 on threes, 1-for-3 at the line
Stewart isn’t especially athletic or flashy but he plays a smart brand of basketball. He processes the game quickly and can be relied upon to make the right plays. I’m not sure he has a future with the Spurs but he looks like he may have the tools and the smarts to carve out a niche in the NBA as a role player.
Robert Woodard II
22 minutes, 6 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers
2-for-10 from the field, 0-for-3 on threes, 2-for-4 at the line
The Spurs got more of the same from Woodard. Athletically and strength-wise, he’s an impressive specimen for a wing. But when he tries to dribble, shoot from the outside or do anything that requires perimeter skill, things take a turn for the worse. I’ve seen Woodard play a lot better than he did for the Spurs in Vegas so I wouldn’t count him out just yet. That said, he was a big-time disappointment on this summer league team.
22 minutes, 9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers
4-for-6 from the field, 1-for-2 at the line
Carlton was fine once again. He plays like you’d expect a possible third string NBA center to play in summer league. He rebounded well, finished off plays in the paint and never tried to do too much. Carlton’s lack of mobility on defense is the main thing holding him back right now.
16 minutes, 3 points, 4 assists
1-for-6 from the field, 1-for-4 on threes
This was Stefanovic’s first minutes of summer league and, hey, he was actually halfway decent. His nonstop movement was helpful and he passed the ball at a high level. In fact, from what we witnessed today, he very well could have been the best passer on this summer league team.
14 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists
1-for-6 from the field, 1-for-5 on threes
Hall never could gain traction during summer league play. He remained a step slow on defense, which made it difficult for him to have a positive impact. Offensively, he wasn’t bashful about shooting or trying to set up his teammates — but Hall simply lacks the athleticism at this point to get enough space to thrive.
12 minutes, 4 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 6 fouls
2-for-3 from the field
Barlow had his hands full trying to defend Kenneth Lofton Jr. I don’t think he ever figured out what to do with Lofton and his imposing bulk. Barlow’s positioning on defense was usually correct, he just had trouble holding his ground and stopping himself from needlessly reaching. He has vast potential on defense but he needs a whole lot of work.
Offensively, it’s basically the same story for Barlow. There were flashes of brilliance but he needs work to put everything together. As it stands, he looks like a multi-year project — but probably a worthwhile one.
12 minutes, 7 points, 2 rebounds
3-for-7 from the field, 1-for-3 on threes
Bowman played well. He looked quicker and livelier than he had in previous summer league games. That said, for a point guard, he really doesn’t see the floor well at all. That’ll make it an uphill road as he tries to make it back onto an NBA roster.
8 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds
1-for-1 from the field, 1-for-1 on threes
In his eight minutes, Edwards nailed a three-pointer on a beautiful looking jumper. We’ll likely see more of that in Austin during the 2022-23 G League campaign.
6 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds
2-for-2 from the field
DeLaurier was okay-ish but he’s another player who had trouble holding his ground against Lofton. The rest of his outing went as expected for an old school type center with limited mobility.
4 minutes, 3 points
1-for-1 from the field, 1-for-1 on threes
Polite was another player who received his first minutes of summer league. Interestingly, Polite recently signed with Tony Parker’s French team.
Considering that the Spurs were without Jeremy Sochan, Joshua Primo, Joe Wieskamp and Darius Days (now of the Miami Heat), Johnson did well to help the Spurs get a win in Vegas. He could have drawn up more plays to feed Branham even more in the fourth quarter — but otherwise I didn’t have an issue with his coaching.