Observations from Spurs’ Summer League win over Cavaliers

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PSN illustration/Credit: @spurs

The San Antonio Spurs got their first Utah Summer League win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, as second year Spur Lonnie Walker IV led the group to a 97-89 victory. In these observations, the primary focus will be on the Spurs players expected to be on the team next season: Walker IV, Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson, Drew Eubanks (Two-way), and Quinndary Weatherspoon (Two-way).

Lonnie Walker IV – 20 points (67% FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists 3 turnovers, 1 steal in 28 minutes

When a player is in year two, you usually want him to dominate the Summer League game not only on the stat sheet, but also in his composure and demeanor on the court. Walker IV looked like an NBA veteran out there Monday among his peers as he had the keys to the Spurs’ offense in the halfcourt, where he ran a lot of pick-and-rolls or tried to get his shots using dribble hand-off action. It’s only one game, but Walker IV looked comfortable taking mid-range jumpers either open by creating space or leaning with contested looks. He was also active throughout the game in crashing the glass and trying to disrupt passing lanes.

Quinndary Weatherspoon – 13 points (63% FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers in 21 minutes

Out of the three Spurs rookies who took the floor Monday, Weatherspoon was the most polished of the trio. Weatherspoon was composed when having to initiate the offense himself as a combo guard, or when he was off the ball, he found different ways to stay in plays whether it was cutting or helping to create looks for others. He had a few drives off the dribble where he showed poise in finishing near the rim, and his size allowed him to deflect some defenders away on his layup attempts. Defensively, he can use his body to get through screens, though he doesn’t have the wing span to create havoc on that end of the floor. His length and size for a combo guard also don’t make him a liability on the defensive end, where he can matchup with players who play the 1-3 spots in Summer League.

Luka Samanic – 11 points (57% FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 steal, 2 blocks in 22 minutes

Samanic had more positives than negatives in his opening day performance. He showed a lot of the strengths that were in his profile on both ends of the floor. On offense, he looked comfortable putting the ball on the floor and slithering through the defense to finish at the rim. He also made a spot-up three late in the game when the Cavaliers were making a comeback. His ballhandling in the open court was also fine as he was able to get a defensive rebound and bring the ball up the floor. On defense, he got switched onto some guards on a few possessions and he contested their shots without giving up too much space from them. He was a help defender on one specific play under the rim where first he blocked a floater, then, when the opponent got the ball back, he deterred another layup attempt. He’ll need to put on some weight and muscle once the season starts because that’s an area where opponents were able to score on him or prevent his drives, when the plays were more about physicality. Overall though, he played well to show off his versatile ability on both ends of the floor.

Drew Eubanks – 13 points (75% FG), 4 rebounds, 1 turnover in 18 minutes

When Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich put Eubanks into games during the regular season, he brought productivity and that allowed Popovich to trust him in 23 games last season. Eubanks did the same in this game – crashed the glass, moved the ball, took efficient shots, and got himself to the free throw line. There’s nothing flashy about Eubanks’ game, but his performance helps the team in him being a player who knows his role and helps the players on the floor maintain stability.

Keldon Johnson – 4 points (50% FG), 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers in 19 minutes

Out of the trio of rookies who made their debut Monday, Johnson looked the most raw out of the group. He showed flashes of his penetration ability as he was able to knife through the defense and get to the hole, but once he was met with defenders protecting the rim, he had difficulty getting quality shots over the bigs. He was able to draw contact several times on his drives and that got him to the free throw line. He’s projected to be a 3-and-D player early on, but in this contest, he wasn’t able to get any shot attempts from deep.

The Summer Spurs will resume play Tuesday at 6:00 PM CT against the Memphis Grizzlies. The game will be broadcast on NBATV.

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