Saturday’s 111-85 victory at the home of the second best team in the West was one of the best of the season for the San Antonio Spurs. Not only did they surprisingly blow out the Phoenix Suns on a SEGABABA despite coming off a deflating loss the night before, but they also did so with a starting line-up that history says should never have been.
With Gregg Popovich resting starters DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl (as well as Patty Mills off the bench), Luka Samanic and Drew Eubanks got the start alongside Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Keldon Johnson. In other words: a former #19 pick, three #29 picks, and an undrafted player who found his way to the Spurs as a two-way player. While the Spurs are well known for their ability to make the most of the end of the first round, to have such success with three so close to together is quite the accomplishment and yet another testament to the Spurs’ ability to develop players.
While the draft history of the five starters was impressive enough, perhaps even more so was the fact that it was built entirely of G-League alumni, a first for the NBA in at least two years.
When Dejounte, Derrick, Keldon, Luka and Drew started for the @spurs in Phoenix, it was the first time in at least two years that an @NBA starting lineup featured five players who all played for the team’s @nbagleague affiliate.#AustinAlum #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/Udpu7K9jHA— Austin Spurs (@austin_spurs) April 20, 2021
The Spurs starting lineup against the Suns was the first time in the last 2 years an @NBA line-up has featured 5 players who all played for the club’s @nbagleague affiliate.@austin_spurs | @DanWeissPBP pic.twitter.com/YLmgbCUa8b— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) April 20, 2021
Samanic didn’t do much in the game beyond an assist, steal and two blocks, the other four former Austin Spurs combined for 56 points, 23 rebounds and 12 assists. And this is all without mentioning the performance of their most recent first round draft pick Devin Vassell, who admittedly is a lottery pick and has not played for Austin but still had a career night with 18 points despite inconsistent playing time of late.
The Spurs are going to need at least one of those players to turn into a star or find it elsewhere — be it in free agency or a future draft — to truly return to contending status again, but along with Lonnie Walker IV, they have built quite a foundation to work with through the draft.