The San Antonio Spurs fell to the Phoenix Suns in summer league on Wednesday evening in a game that went down to the wire. The Spurs trailed by 11 points with less than seven minutes remaining. That’s when the starters came back in and brought San Antonio all the way back. Unfortunately, two late free throws by the Suns at the end were the difference in Phoenix’s 79-78 victory.
After scoring 32 points last game in a dazzling performance, Lonnie Walker IV sat out this contest — presumably because the Spurs have shut him down for the rest of summer league. San Antonio will play another game in Vegas but we’ve likely seen the last of Walker.
Spurs Grades After Loss To Suns In Summer League
San Antonio’s second round pick continues to shine in summer league action. Quinndary Weatherspoon utilized his powerful 6-foot-4 frame to get wherever he wanted to go. His ability to stop on a dime and then get good elevation allows him to score even when he’s defended well. Weatherspoon also flashed savviness in pick-and-roll sets; it appears as if he could be a facilitator down the road.
Defensively, I also liked what I saw. He has the speed to defend lead guards and the strength to hold his position in the paint. He also keeps his head on a swivel and is already knowledgeable regarding his team-defense responsibilities.
There’s a lot to like about how Weatherspoon plays. He’s aggressive, doesn’t back down from a challenge and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He very much looks like he belongs. It’ll be very interesting to see how he develops over the next year or two. As it stands now, it appears as if he has a chance to be one of the rare second round picks who actually makes it as an NBA player.
Luka Samanic once again gave glimpses of his myriad of tools. He moves extremely well for a 6-foot-11 bigman. I’ve been especially impressed with his passing. In Europe, he wasn’t known as someone who can make plays and find open teammates via the pass. During summer league, we’ve witnessed him make a number of quality dishes, both on the move and from out on the perimeter.
Against the Suns, he got better as the game progressed. At first, he was miserable on the boards. By the end of the game, he had tallied 11 rebounds, his summer league high. Ball-handling was another area he improved. He went from being a walking turnover whenever he put the ball on the ground to craftily getting to the rim thanks to his dribbling ability.
Phoenix tested Samanic defensively out on the perimeter a whole lot and the Croatian held up reasonably well. Quickness wasn’t an issue, as he was almost always able to stay in front of his man. However, he needlessly reached too much and challenged midrange jumpers too closely, which resulted in seven fouls.
All it all, there were things to get excited about and areas where it’s obvious the Samanic needs development work. Thankfully, the 19-year-old has plenty of time.
Even though Walker wasn’t playing, Keldon Johnson was still lost in the mix. He rarely got any touches. When he did touch the ball, Johnson sometimes forced the issue.
Defensively, I really liked his hustle. He was good at maneuvering around screens and he almost never gives up on a play. Johnson ran the court hard — both ways — and was the loudest communicator on the court.
He’s had much better games in summer league but Johnson still was an asset when things on the offensive end weren’t going his way. That’s a good sign, in and of itself.
This was a rock solid game for Drew Eubanks. He didn’t do anything too spectacular but he provided what the Spurs needed from him on his way to 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a block in 24 minutes.
Eubanks was a strong finisher at the rim but he still had the wherewithal to make quick reads when a clear path to the basket wasn’t available. I’d also grade him average to good in terms of individual defense, team defense and rebounding.
This performance was a step in the right direction. Eubanks has had a few rocky moments in summer league but he looks like someone worth keeping around.
Nothing new from Ben Moore tonight: smart, unselfish player who passes up open shots and lacks both size and athleticism. I like a lot about Moore (his defensive IQ is really high and his fast processor helps things flow offensively) but he just doesn’t appear to have what it takes to make it in today’s NBA. If he had a three-point shot, he might have a chance — but he refuses to even shoot them in summer league.
Josh Magette took care of the ball, made a lot of correct passes and played physical defense. But at 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, he’s unavoidably a liability most of the time when he’s on the court — especially when his outside shot isn’t falling.
I had been really impressed by Kenny Williams’ defense — but I was underwhelmed with what I witnessed on that end tonight. He allowed his man to get around him multiple times and was caught gambling on a few other occasions. He was being used as a defensive stopper but it wasn’t working out. Offensively, his three-pointers didn’t look particularly close to going in.
The more you watch Thomas Robinson play, the more you remember why he’s not in the NBA. He just doesn’t have the coordination or feel to make it in today’s game. His brute strength and timing for rebounds is there. Unfortunately for him, while that might have been enough to make it in the NBA a decade ago, that’s no longer the case.
It looks like tireless Jeff Ledbetter has finally run out of energy. His enthusiasm has dried up and he wasn’t attacking much on offense. Defensively, he competed — but with middling results.
To start off summer league play, Darius Morris looked like an experienced vet who could dominate action for minutes at a time. Recently, though, he hasn’t looked good — at all. Tonight, he appeared to be a step slow and lacked both quickness and agility to do anything when the ball was in his hands. He also wasn’t doing much on the defensive end.
Galen Robinson Jr.
After not playing in Salt Lake City, Galen Robinson Jr. was a feel-good story in Vegas. That, though, wasn’t the case tonight. He looked every bit like a guy who wasn’t even that good at the college level. He airballed a three-pointer that didn’t appear to ever get as high as the rim and had real problems handling any point guard duties.
I thought Becky Hammon coached reasonably well. Obviously, the franchise doesn’t want her to run the rookies into the ground during summer league action. Tonight, it was mostly her bench that let her down. She tried to buy time for the starters but couldn’t find the right combination to keep the bench squad afloat.