clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Timberwolves

This is the part where we we say...maybe this team is better than anyone thought?

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Are Spurs too good to tank? We might as well say it out loud now and get it out of our systems. The season is going to be long and the rebuild is going to be...well, who knows? Probably long. Especially since we can’t seem to get the message across to the kids that we’re supposed to be losing these stupid things. Come on, guys! Stick to the plan!

You can’t be mad about wins. It’s antithetical to pretty much everything we’re supposed to stand for as fans. You play to win the game and you’re happy when you do. I mean, I’ve certainly had way more fun watching the past three victories than I did on opening night when it seemed like we were putting up our lawn chairs next door to the abyss for the foreseeable future.

This is the inherent problem with tanking. It puts you in an impossible position as a fan. These wins are “bad.” They are, in all likelihood, “hurting” the franchise. By all accounts, we should be losing our minds every time a team like the Timberwolves, one that has very real playoff aspirations, saunters onto the court and falls behind to our young pups by double digits. It’s bad for business.

And yet...

It feels like pretty peak nihilism to sit around rooting for your own team to lose on the off chance that a ping pong ball is going to land our way. So you hedge, right? You say to yourself, “hey, if the wins come then they come? It’s all part of the development process.” You smile to yourself every time Jeremy Sochan beats every other guy on the court down the floor on every single possession. You start making mental notes about how much more aggressive Devin Vassell looks with the ball in his hands this year. You cackle to yourself watching Jakob Poeltl out play the dude that Minnesota traded away approximately 100 draft picks for. It’s fun! It’s supposed to be fun! Sports!

We’ll come back to earth eventually. Harder games are going to come and teams will start to figure out how to keep the Spurs at bay over 48 minutes. You can’t expect to make the playoffs on nothing but pace, athleticism, and a can-do attitude. Eventually talent is going to win out in this league and everything points to the Spurs just not quite being there yet talent-wise. Which, again, is by design. So...that’s fine. Everything is fine.

And yet...

Are the Spurs too good to tank? Are they too competitive? These guys just might to go out there and out hustle teams who should know better. They might be a little better on the margins than we thought they’d be. They might still have a coach on the sideline with a trick or two up his sleeve. The season is young and everything is on the table, up to and including that concept that the Spurs, these Spurs, might just have what it takes to surprise some people.

This could all look pretty silly a week or two from now and, if it does? Well, sue me. Right now it feels good to have the mind wander a little bit and let the light in while we can. It can get awful dark and lonely sitting here by the abyss. A win or two here and there never hurt nobody.


  • I think I might be fully ready to love Jeremy Sochan. I, admittedly, watch about twenty total minutes of college basketball a year so I have zero frame of reference for what his game looks like not in the context of being an NBA rookie, but this version of him pretty fun! He’s so athletic and fast and full of energy. He seems to excel at the dirty work stuff like defense and rebounding just as, like, a baseline which makes anything else we get from him seem like an added bonus. He also appears to have a rare intangible quality in him where his natural instinct is just to do something cool if given the option. Run up the floor and get to your spot or run up the floor and immediately crash the rim in case there is an alley-oop available? He goes for the opp every time! I love it. The Spurs have had very few instinctively cool players in their history so it’s imperative that we cherish and nurture this kid as much as we possibly can.
  • I’m almost positive the Spurs are going to trade Jakob Poeltl this season. He’s too good for what we’re trying to accomplish here. He’s also absolutely the type of guy that 5 different teams are going to look at come January and think to themselves, “that’s the piece right there. That’s the one we need.” It makes me so sad. I can’t begin to express the weird amount of affection I feel for this kid. He was a total afterthought in the aftermath of the Kawhi trade and all he ever did was come in here, work his butt off, and turn himself into one of the best centers in the league. That’s not even hyperbole on my part. He is, hands down, one of the best centers in the league. Bless you, Jakob. I light a candle every night and pray they don’t send you to the Lakers.
  • The 4th quarter of this game felt a little bit like how when a cartoon character runs out over a cliff and somehow manages to keep running on momentum alone until he finally looks down, realizes where he is, and finally starts heading towards the ground. I think it’s a move we’re probably going to see more than a few times from the kids this season and that’s probably okay. Learning how to put your opponents to bed and grind out a win is a pretty advanced skill and if they want to get started on those lessons early then, by all means, don’t let me be the one to stop them.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- How realistic does it seem to you that the Spurs will make the playoffs?

- Sitting here, right now, today, I would have to say....very?

- Very? Really? Isn’t the Western Conference supposed to be stacked this year?

- Well sure, but why can’t we be a part of the stacking? Who says we can’t?

- I mean, there’s no rule against it, the odds just don’t seem to be in your favor.

- Every year there is a surprise team or two. It never goes 100% chalk. Why not the Spurs? All they have to do is be the 10th best team in the conference and then anything can happen. I’m not saying they’re going to win the title this year or anything. I’m just saying that they could.

- You’re saying that these Spurs could win the NBA Championship in this 2022-23 season?

- I’m saying a lot of things right now

- Are you going to be mad when I bring this up again in a few games?

- Why would I get mad about you telling me I was right?