The San Antonio Spurs suffered their first summer league loss on Wednesday night, falling to the Utah Jazz by a final count of 84-81. The Spurs, who finished 2-1 in Salt Lake City, struggled coming out of the gates and could never complete the comeback.
With 2019 first round draft picks Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson resting, Lonnie Walker IV led the way for San Antonio with 19 points in 29 minutes. He had a three-point attempt at the buzzer that could have sent the game into overtime but he missed the desperation shot. The Spurs now get a day off before their summer league play continues in Las Vegas.
Spurs Grades For Third Summer League Game
Lonnie Walker IV
In the first half, Lonnie Walker IV was really bad, to be blunt. It appeared as if he was trying to ease his way into the game and allow his teammates to get a rhythm. One problem: Walker isn’t a playmaker — and has never been one yet in his basketball career — so him sitting back and doing nothing is detrimental. It’d be different if he was deferring to set up his teammates. But instead, he was spending much of the first two quarters standing around and not doing much of anything right.
To Walker’s credit, he turned it around in the second half. After an anemic 1-for-5 display in the first half, he hit half of his final 12 attempts from the field after intermission. He especially heated up to begin the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points in a three minute span to cut a 13 points deficit to only three points.
Offensively, he did most of his damage off of pull-up jumpers; his balance on such shots is really impressive. Walker tried driving to the hoop with inconsistent success. He wasn’t getting much separation from his man and usually had to attempt a difficult shot over a help defender or two once he was in the paint. As previously mentioned, his playmaking needs a lot of work. He doesn’t often look to pass once he’s gathering his steps and heading up for a shot near the rim.
Defensively, he was decently active. I wouldn’t say he did great in any one area but his defensive rebounding was helpful. He’s never been a notable rebounder so if that can be added to his repertoire, that’d increase his value going forward.
In his second summer league game, Quinndary Weatherspoon had some impressive highlights and some frustrating lowlights. On the plus side, his three-point stroke looked really good. He appears very comfortable taking it off the dribble, which is an attribute valued more than ever in today’s NBA. Weatherspoon also has a strong body, which allows him to drive through contact on offense and deal with bigger players on defense. His quickness and movements all pass the eye-test as an NBA player.
On the minus side, he was too often out of control on offense. Weatherspoon was too willing to move the ball into congestion rather than swing it to an open area. His activity on defense was unquestionable but he lacked discipline and gave up open drives.
All in all, though, Weatherspoon continues to look better than expected for a second round pick. The Spurs have found themselves an intriguing prospect to sign to a two-way contract.
Early on, Drew Eubanks was the only Spurs player performing with any type of intensity. He wasn’t bashful about throwing around his body. He made smart, quick moves with the ball in his hands. His hook shot continues to impress and his outside shooting form looks much improved from last season. An uncharacteristically poor night at the charity stripe dampened what was otherwise a quality offensive showing.
On defense, I wasn’t as impressed. He again went for a lot of blocks and again got a lot of air. Eubanks had trouble on the defensive glass because Willie Reed was manhandling him in the paint. (Though, to be fair, that’s understandable because Reed is extremely strong even compared to other strong players in the NBA.)
On the whole, I don’t think Eubanks notably helped or hurt his standing with the Spurs during this affair.
After two really impressive defensive performances, Ben Moore didn’t have it tonight. Considering this was a back-to-back-to-back for him, he deserves some sympathy. Moore’s individual defense was weak and his rotations were a step slow. He still made a couple plays on that end but not nearly as many as he made the first two nights in Salt Lake City.
Offensively, Moore really struggled. It was more of the same that we’ve seen from him: passing up open shots, not athletic enough to score when challenged, not big enough to be a post-up threat unless a small has switched onto him. He’s a good passer with a high basketball IQ but his ball-handling, or lack thereof, hold him back in that regard as well.
Another guy who was playing his third game in as many nights, Josh Magette wasn’t moving well either. His playmaking wasn’t there and he wasn’t penetrating often enough. Defensively, he had sporadic hustle plays but he was mostly a liability due to his lack of size and athleticism.
It seemed like Jeff Ledbetter had his full tank of energy despite playing in all three games … then again the 31-year-old knows a thing or two about summer league and how to pace himself. Ledbetter was doing Ledbetter things: confidently hoisting three-pointers, pushing the pace, being a pest on defense and trying to bring enthusiasm to the game.
Defensively, Kenny Williams looks legit. He’s quick, long and has really good anticipation. Offensively, yikes. He tried to play point guard and it was unsightly, to put it kindly. It doesn’t look like he knows how to dribble or pass at anywhere near even a summer league level. If he ends up in Austin, the coaches will need to start at the basics with him on the offensive end.
It’s difficult to not root for this old dog as he’s trying to learn new tricks. Thomas Robinson’s bruise-based skill-set became antiquated as the league got smaller and faster. But to his credit, Robinson realized exactly that and he’s trying — really trying — to adjust. He’s showing off some grab-and-go ballhandling, high-low passing from the perimeter, playmaking on the move and even a rudimentary jumper. None of it looks natural but kudos to Robinson for trying. And on this night, the Spurs needed his muscle and tenacity in the paint to slow down Utah’s onslaught at the rim. Robinson held up comparatively well in that regard.
After wowing the audience with his athleticism last night, Jordan Barnett couldn’t duplicate his exploits versus the Jazz. Even though he can jump high, it appears as if he has slow feet on the defensive end, as he gave up middle a handful of times. He also didn’t exhibit much strength when trying to defend the post. Barnett gave good effort on offense but he was mostly stagnating the flow and disrupting ball-movement. Not a good night at the office.
I don’t know if Blake Ahearn was telling Walker to defer early in games but it’s not working. In Vegas, let’s hope Becky Hammon calls plays for Walker early to get him going. Ahearn might have been slow recognizing his back-to-back-to-back players were mostly out of gas. That said, I thought Ahearn did a fine job this year as a summer league coach. Let’s hope the Spurs are able to keep him around the organization because it appears as if he has a lot of potential as a coach.