“Don’t get too excited”, Gregg Popovich reminded Spurs fans after his team’s preseason-opening blowout win of a Utah Jazz team that was sitting four main rotation players, including Rudy Gobert. Like always, the preseason comes with its cautionary tales and talking points, but darn it, Pop, we don’t care right now.
This was fun. It was fun seeing the team back and full of energy after an exhausting, COVID-condensed second half of the 2020-21 season that dragged them out of playoff contention and into limbo. It was fun seeing a new style of play centered around no one in particular, but rather pushing the ball in transition and finding the open man: the complete opposite of the slow, boring, midrange-style the Spurs have been married to for the last 3-5 years. Most of all, it was fun seeing a young group of Spurs-selected talent finally getting a chance to show the world what they can do on their own, completely free of expectations but with an appropriate attitude of challenging themselves to be their best.
Perhaps no Spur did that more last night than rookie Josh Primo, selected 12th overall in the 2021 draft amidst great scrutiny from all sides. Again, preseason and whatnot, but somehow an 18-year-old went from having Spurs fans pulling out their hair over his selection a few months ago to chanting his name by the end of his first appearance: a 17-point outing on 7-8 shooting (3-4 from three) in just 18 minutes second-half action.
Check out how just about every #Spurs player, and even a couple members of the Jazz, came over to Josh Primo as soon as the final buzzer sounded.— Hector Ledesma (@HectorLedesmaTV) October 5, 2021
The crowd started chanting "Primo, Primo, Primo" in the waning seconds#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/CCwRuU6udw
Of course, in this evil world of non-televised preseason games, there’s only so many highlights to go around, but we’ll work with what we have. Here’s a smooth looking three from the corner, followed by a nifty back-and-fourth exchange with Bryn Forbes, and a nice drive and finish.
This Primo kid has no fear. pic.twitter.com/H3Z8Vi1DEE— Raul Dominguez Jr. (@Abrjsdad) October 5, 2021
Primo wasn’t the only lesser-known Spur who stood out. Drew Eubanks got first crack at backup center last night and was the main bright spot early while the rest of the team shook off the rust, showing off his improved shooting range, plus finished strong after receiving a nifty pass from Lonnie Walker for the slam. (Is it just me, or has Eubanks really beefed up over the summer?)
Not to be outdone, Jock Landale came in from overseas as a beefy stretch-5 himself and showed off his game inside and out. (You can see his three in the overall highlights below.)
He also had this nice pass (seeing a lot of those in here) to the Spurs’ most notable free agency acquisition Doug McDermott, who showed he is more than just an outside shooter, but also great at moving without the ball and finishing around the rim: something the Spurs really need to make this offense work.
Devin Vassell didn’t have an amazing shooting night, but his defense was on full display, and he showed off his plans to be more aggressive on offense this season:
Overall, that was extremely fun for a preseason game. And no worries, Pop; everyone knows not to take it too seriously. Josh Primo will likely still spend a majority of his time in Austin this season because of the depth in front of him, and a brutal, front-loaded regular season schedule will likely bring things back to reality a bit in a month’s time, but that doesn’t mean fun can’t be had along the way, and there was plenty of that to go around in San Antonio last night.