Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves – Game #4

The reports of the death of the San Antonio Spurs are greatly exaggerated, it seems. With no tanking in sight, the Spurs smashed the Minnesota Timberwolves to win their third straight game and improve to 3-1 on the season. The 115-106 final score doesn’t tell the story of how much the good guys dominated this contest.

After taking a ten-point lead into halftime, the Spurs went supernova in the third quarter. When Devin Vassell christened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, San Antonio extended their lead to 35 points. Thirty five. 106-71. The Timberwolves made the final score respectable down the stretch but the drama had long been over.

In reality, the Spurs aren’t as good as they looked tonight for long stretches and the Timberwolves are better than they played before garbage time commenced. Still, San Antonio deserves credit for playing a beautiful brand of basketball that resulted in 35 assists in the game’s first 37 minutes. Add in an energetic, ever-switching defense and a dedication to running the court hard both ways and Spurs fans should be proud of this team.  

Spurs at Timberwolves – Final Grades

grades spurs timberwolves

Keldon Johnson

This was Johnson’s worst game of the season so far — but he was still pretty good. He struggled with his shot but his aggressiveness going to the rim helped collapse Minnesota’s defense. Johnson also ran the court with authority, limited his mistakes, and his enthusiasm and confidence were contagious. 

Grade: B

Devin Vassell

Vassell hit only 3-of-12 shots from two-point land but was otherwise marvelous. He stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists. He never hesitated to launch a three and hit half of his ten attempts from deep. Vassell never backed down on either end and was in constant attack mode. After his poor regular season opener, he’s very, very good.

Grade: A

Jakob Poeltl

I thought Poeltl was outstanding. He handily outplayed Rudy Gobert. Poeltl’s assertiveness on offense was helpful and he exhibited a surprising amount of craft. His offensive rebounding and passing were also huge assets on that end. His defense was solid. Specifically, he was strong in transition and single-handedly clogged the paint in halfcourt sets.

Grade: A

Tre Jones

Jones scored a season-low eight points but this was actually one of his better games of the season. His playmaking was excellent, as he utilized his speed to routinely break down the defense and find teammates. He was also relentlessly active on defense and on the boards. This was the first game of the season where I thought Jones showed glimpses of possibly being a long-term solution as a starter on a good basketball team. 

Grade: A-

Jeremy Sochan

Sochan entered this game with nine points total in the first three games of his NBA career. Tonight, he scored eight of the team’s first ten points on his way to posting 14 points in 23 minutes on 7-for-9 shooting from the field. He could have had even more if he wasn’t in foul trouble. Sochan’s running of the court was perhaps the biggest single difference-maker for the Spurs on this night. He ran early and often and it resulted in him getting a handful of alleyoop dunks and it made the Timberwolves pay whenever both Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns tried to crash the glass. Defensively, Sochan was really good. He survived in the paint against Towns and was able to seamlessly switch on the perimeter. If Sochan can shoot it straight eventually, the Spurs have something with this kid. 

Grade: A-

Joshua Primo

The good: Primo’s shooting was extra smooth. His elevation and the rotation on his jumper were exquisite. He illustrated impressive playmaking ability at times — both for himself and others. Primo was also a force for good on the defensive end. The bad: Ball-handling and passing accuracy remain an unmistakable issue for Primo. It’s not so much that he’s being careless as it is he’s just not good in those areas yet. 

Grade: B

Josh Richardson

Richardson was a steadying force for the Spurs. He played good defense, helped get his teammates in sets, moved well without the ball and took the shots he needed to take. 

Grade: B+

Doug McDermott

McDermott was the only Spurs player who never found his footing. His shooting was missing in action and his defense was a few steps slow. McDermott had a couple of good passes but he was more often getting in the way than helping out tonight.

Grade: C

Zach Collins

This was easily Collins’ best game of the young season. On offense, he passed it well, he finished plays off and was consistently moving to advantageous spots. Defensively, he was stronger in the paint than usual and battled on the boards better than usual. Collins still needs to cut down on fouls but otherwise he played like a top tier backup center.

Grade: A-

Isaiah Roby

After being given a chance to win the backup power forward job, Roby has taken full advantage of the opportunity. I thought he was fantastic again tonight. He has an intriguing set of skills and a long, athletic body to cover ground in a hurry. Against the Timberwolves, Roby played a heady and hustling brand of defense. Offensively, his shooting, passing and patience make him a harmonious fit. 

Grade: B+

Pop

Pop has his guys playing great basketball. Considering their talent level, I’m not sure they can play much better. The cohesion, unselfishness and the consistency of their effort level is at least partially due to Pop’s coaching. His rotation tonight made perfect sense. I liked how he went back to Sochan at the end instead of panicking and going with an all-veteran lineup. Just good stuff up and down the board for the NBA’s all-time winningest coach.

Grade: A+