The “Mamba” in Josh Primo – Are the Kobe/Primo Comparisons Real?

Kobe Bryant Photo Credit: Walter Iooss Jr./Sports Illustrated Jos Primo Photo Credit: Michael J. LeBrecht II/NBAE Photo Edit: Jonas Clark - Project Spurs

In the 2021-22 San Antonio Spurs season, Josh Primo spent most of his time in the G-League. With the time he did spend on the NBA roster, however, the front office saw a young player with tons of potential. Some may even go as far to say the young guard reminds them of another 18-year-old that had the weight of turning around a franchise on his shoulders as well – the late Kobe Bryant.

Josh Primo Seems Cut From That Cloth

Primo surprised a lot of people with his athleticism on both sides of the court during his rookie season. Unafraid to take important shots, he scored lead-changing points and made some tough baskets in the paint. He was also a force on defense, recording four blocks in a hard-fought 108-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

In the G-League, Primo showed his competitive side, hustling back on defense, taking charges, and getting his teammates involved. There were also times he took over games, showing true leadership. Like so many other players in this generation, this motivation to be a complete player can be traced to the influence of Bryant. When the news circulated in 2020 of the Lakers star’s passing, Primo had shared a photo of Bryant on his Instagram captioned, “Your hustle will continue to inspire me to find a new level to reach on and off the court…RIP”.

Some Fans Saw the “Mamba” in Josh Primo Last Year

The Bryant comparisons started with his demeanor in interviews. Some fans even noted some “Bryant-esque” moments in the G-League. One moment that stands out is when the Austin Spurs were down against the Mexico City Capitanes last year. Primo led the Spurs comeback effort scoring 20 of is 28 points in the 2nd half. Late in the fourth quarter, Primo took a charge with the Spurs down two points. His reaction was raw, like a warrior, yelling to the rafters. In the following two San Antonio possessions Primo, made two key assists that helped put the team ahead. They hung on to win the game 112-110.

While even the most casual NBA fan has yelled “KOBE!” while throwing a piece of trash away, Primo can he heard yelling “PRIMO!” when he takes shots in workouts. Which of course adds fuel to the flames of Spurs fans’ Bryant comparisons.

Primo Picked It Up the Team at the 2022 Summer League

Going into the 2022 offseason, the Spurs organization and fans alike expected big things from Primo. With Dejounte Murray now dealt to the Atlanta Hawks for future draft picks, Primo is expected to take over point guard duties for San Antonio. He returned to the court in the Summer League hoping to show off his development since April.

Unfortunately, Primo fell ill with COVID-19 and missed three of the five Summer League games. In the two games of action, he was still doing his thing, hitting his shots and getting his teammates involved. He scored 20 points against Cleveland in a 90-99 loss, but the upside is that he spent most of that game being a facilitator and finding the open man. When push came to shove late, however, Primo became visibly frustrated with his teammates and took over like Bryant would. He scored most of his 20 points in the 4th quarter.

There’s A Long Way to Go

The Spurs organization and fans alike must be thrilled to see Primo’s development entering his second season at age 19. With his ability to see the whole court and find his open man, his smooth as butter high arcing shot, he’s gaining confidence at the NBA level. There is still a ton of room for him to build and develop, but this progress is a good sign. This should be a season where Primo can begin to establish himself as a leader on the team. With everything he has shown in the offseason, he should be able to cement his place as a cornerstone of San Antonio’s rebuild.

Keep an eye on the rotation, as Tre Jones and Blake Wesley will be hungry for minutes. They are Primo’s prime competition for his spot in the starting lineup. There are sure to be some big performances from all three of them in the preseason as they fight for the starting position. Given Primo’s offseason, it would be surprising if he didn’t come out on top.


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