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A Spurs fan’s Utah Summer League diary: Day 1

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Day 1 in Salt Lake City shows of more to come from the Silver & Black

Jeph Duarte

To begin with, attending any Spurs game is a worthy event. But three days of back-to-back hardwood action where we fans are introduced to newly drafted Spurs is a vacation.

I hopped a plane from San Antonio to Salt Lake City for the three day Utah Summer League. By the time I landed, took the light rail to my hotel, checked in and dropped off my bags, I was ready for the short walk to Vivant SmartHome Arena.

I acquired my credentials, took a walk around the nearly empty sporting locale checking out food options, and made my way to the media center to grab information. On my way down, I noticed the Spurs were already engaged in a shoot around, so I stopped to get a look at some new names and familiar faces.

I grabbed a seat and thoroughly enjoyed watching the Spurs work out together as a squad.

Takeaways

  • Keldon Johnson is a defensive menace. He came out physical and wound his way around the court evading screens to stay on his man.
  • Thomas Robinson already has a rapport with Lonnie Walker IV. The played some two-man ending in Walker taking some open mid-range jumpers.
  • Luka Samanic has hops. In the postgame interview, head coach Blake Ahern mentioned Samanic’s rebounding and blocking as something he saw that he hadn’t expected to that level.
  • From court side, you can hear this squad communicating. By contrast, the Cavs were talking plays through after and a bit more argumentative. Many of these Summer Leaguers have been under Ahearn in Austin. That said, there was more fluidity to their game.
  • The starters had a slow start falling behind the Cavaliers. Quinndary Weatherspoon came off the bench with an immediate spark and led the team in scoring for a brief period, ending the game with a solid 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
  • Samanic started slow but visibly came into his own throughout the game. He hit a late three that put the game just out of reach for the Cavaliers. If that wasn’t enough, he stole the ball and ended the game with an emphatic dunk. When clutch moments were available, the newest signee did not flinch.
  • After the game Luka was asked if he was nervous. He responded, “Oh, yeah, it’s my first NBA game. I was excited.” He acknowledged he has a long way to go and verified that he needs to put on weight and work the way Pop wants him to.

I stuck around after to catch a little of the Memphis Grizzlies/Utah Jazz game.

Tonight, yesterday’s two winners — the Spurs and the Grizzlies — will face off at 6:00 PM CT on NBATV as Day 2 of the Salt Lake City Summer League adventure continues.