The San Antonio Spurs held their annual Silver & Black Open Scrimmage on Thursday night. The 2019 version of this event was like all the others: the players took it seriously but the effort level was below that of even a preseason game. Understandably, no one wanted to get hurt so the physicality was minimal. That said, the teams were running actual plays and the players were competing.
I tracked the stats by hand during the game. Keep in mind that several players switched teams at halftime so these weren’t the actual squads for the duration of the game.
2019 Spurs Open Scrimmage Stats
2019 Spurs Open Scrimmage Grades
LaMarcus Aldridge played how you’d expect him to play in a scrimmage. He wasn’t exerting himself, which is probably smart, but I did like his passing. Most notably, though, is he’s continuing to shoot three-pointers. Considering he had 10 three-pointers made in 81 games last season, it’s a good sign that he has a made three-pointer in each of the preseason games and now this scrimmage.
Off to a slow start in the scrimmage, DeMar DeRozan eventually picked it up and had a decent showing. He displayed good court vision, good movement off the ball and he did well to stay within the team concept. Two negatives: First, his defense was atrocious, even factoring in the semi-casual atmosphere. Second, it’s disconcerting that DeRozan didn’t even attempt a three-pointer in the scrimmage. It’s difficult to believe he’s going to be shooting more threes this year when he’s not even shooting them in a glorified exhibition affair.
Everything about Dejounte Murray’s three-point stroke looks much, much better than two seasons ago. He’s on balance, he’s using his guide hand until the end of the shot and he’s using more arc. It’s literally like a brand new shot compared to early in his career. His 3-for-3 shooting from three-point land was one of the most exciting aspects of the scrimmage. Outside of that, Murray did well on the boards and played with energy defensively. His playmaking was iffy, though, and he was loose with the ball.
Bryn Forbes looked super smooth offensively. His picture-perfect jumper looks even better than it did last season, as his footwork continues to improve and he gains confidence in his ability to score. From what we’ve seen in preseason so far, it looks like Forbes is ready to build upon what he did last season. On this shooting starved team, Forbes has gone from an afterthought to a vital cog.
Not much to report regarding Jakob Poeltl. His mobility might be a bit better than last season and he looks comfortable in all phases. His defense was strong tonight and he did well on the glass.
Coming out of the gates, it was the same unconfident, shaky Derrick White we witnessed in the first two preseason games. Then, after he hit a jumper, his confidence returned and he realized he’s good at this basketball thing. He was far from spectacular but it was relieving to see signs of life from White. His playmaking was solid and he regained that pep in his step that he had last season for a majority of the year.
Patty Mills looks like he’s in really good shape, as he’s running all over the court. His effective was questionable, however. I didn’t love his shot-selection and he wasn’t able to make much headway on the defensive end.
As if his trigger finger was wrapped with poison ivy, Marco Belinelli was letting shots go whenever he got a touch. His shot-selection wasn’t terrible but he could have put more effort into making plays. Belinelli’s defense wasn’t good, particularly in transition. To his credit, he appears to be in better shape than he was at this point last season.
Rudy Gay’s athleticism hasn’t been impressive in preseason action and that didn’t change tonight. Let’s hope he’s just taking it easy. He had a few really good passes but he also dominated the action too much at times and was too happy to break sets. Gay wasn’t good on the boards when he was playing at power forward.
It was a satisfactory outing for Drew Eubanks. He was active on defense; he kept his hands up and attacked the boards. On offense, he’s not hesitating to call his own number. I wouldn’t say this scrimmage hurt or helped Eubanks’ standing with the organization.
In this free-flowing game, Chimezie Metu’s athleticism really stood out. His ability to get out and run was a weapon and he did well utilizing his speed and hops advantage compared to the other bigs. He even had a couple grab-and-gos after pulling down defensive rebounds. But Metu wasn’t just a gazelle tonight. Late in the game, he authored two of the best passes I’ve ever seen him make and he played with an edge and competitive fire rarely seen from him. We’ll see if he can build off of this performance in a real game but this version of Metu is worth keeping around for a least a couple more years.
DeMarre Carroll missed all three of his three-pointers but his hustle and effort was commendable. He also had a few heady plays when going to the rim with the ball in his hands. Defensively, he was solid compared to the other perimeter defenders and he helped out by battling for boards.
Lonnie Walker IV
It was a surprisingly quiet scrimmage for Lonnie Walker IV. Last season, he really showed off his skills at this same event. Tonight? He wasn’t stepping on the gas, for the most part. He had sporadic highlight plays here and there — from his block of a Forbes jumper to his athletic forays to the paint — but he didn’t impact the game as much as expected.
After sitting out the first two preseason games due to an illness, we saw Trey Lyles for the first time. The good: He truly has advanced perimeter skills for a big man. He can catch the ball, make a dribble or two and then find an open man. His feel for the game looked good and he’s obviously talented. The bad: He had a couple painfully soft shot attempts around the rim. Lyles just played a soft game in general. The Spurs will need him to up his intensity a few notches if he’s going to win playing time. Talented kid … but you can already see why two franchises got frustrated with him.
Pretty good, rook. Pretty good. After booking a rare preseason DNP-CD in the game against the Miami Heat, Samanic got to play tonight and his skills were on display. He moves extremely well for his size and his shooting stroke looks really good. I can already see improvements with his balance and shot prep even compared to his European days. Samanic needs to get a lot stronger to compete at this level but all the tools are there and he looks the part of a legit NBA player in terms of his fluidity and his athleticism.
Quinndary Weatherspoon was a tornado of activity when he was on the court. Wherever he went, something was bound to happen. There was some good and some bad but I remain satisfied with what we’ve seen so far from Weatherspoon. He’s a better ballhandler and distributor than advertised coming out of college and he plays with a mean streak defensively. He needs time in the G League but he looks like a good prospect for a two-way player.
Sure, Daulton Hommes’ defense isn’t extraordinarily bad right now but he looks intriguing enough size-wise, movement-wise and shot-wise to keep around in the G League. Hommes hit the two biggest shots late in the scrimmage, both three-pointers, to lift his team to victory. A scrimmage victory doesn’t mean anything but it had to feel good for Hommes to knock down those shots in that situation.
Keldon Johnson was invisible during his time on the court. I don’t remember anything he did that would register as a positive on either end of the court.
Though he didn’t play much, Dedric Lawson exhibited a healthy amount of awareness for a big. His instincts on the glass are apparent and he has a quick enough computer to make instant decisions with the ball. That’s a good sign for someone his size.