Almost as much as I love watching live basketball, I love wallowing in memories of seasons past. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many Pounders love doing that as well. Because as Spurs fans we’ve been given so much to remember. And maybe the vast number of great memories is the reason why I rely on basketball-reference.com for my reminiscing exercises. When did Manu win Sixth Man of the Year? Was it the year that Roger Mason started? When did Timmy win his first MVP? The year he won his second ring? Both wrong. I just looked it up. I had to. Because I didn’t know anymore.
Interestingly, my recollection of the first NBA season I watched, the 1993-94 season, is remarkably intact. I’m sure I coud name at least three starters for each tram. I remember who did well and who didn’t, both teams and individual players. I even remember a Spurs game in which Negele Knight looked so good that I was wondering why he didn’t start. I also remember that I felt pity for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1993-94. They were the worst team that season, but I somehow liked them. I liked their colors, deep purple and dark green back then. I liked the deer in the logo. In particular, I liked the name of the city. Milwaukee, to my Germann ears, sounded so joyful, phonetically. I know, ten-year-olds find strange reasons to like or dislike things.
I never became a real fan of the Bucks, but they’ve always had a special place in my heart. And since the Spurs are some years away from contention, I find it incredibly easy for me to root for the Bucks in the playoffs. Frankly, I can’t remember a contending team other than the Spurs I ever felt so good about. Contenders are usually stacked with players I consider villains. There’s no villain on that team, is there? Even more so, the Bucks’ three best players – Giannis, Kris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday – appear to be genuine good guys. You just gotta like this team from a character perspective. And you gotta love them basketball-wise. Because they’re bloody good. Even without Middleton they have clearly looked like the team to beat over the first 11 games. But with their entire big three sidelined last night, they clearly looked like a team that could be beaten by the
Silver & Black turquoise. And the young Spurs didn’t disappoint.
- Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell successfully continued their quest of developing into bona fide franchise cornerstones. Both went a solid 9 from 17 from the field, with Keldon adding six points from six attempts from the charity stripe. He’s now averaging five free-throw attempts per game, up from 3.1 last season. That’s very encouraging, because primary scoring options simply need the ability to get to the line. Dejounte Murray, who last year was the Spurs’ first scoring option, only averaged 3.6 attempts. I believe it’s not too early to say that Keldon is more suitable for that role.
- Blocks aren’t necessarily a reliable indicator for an individual player’s rim protection skills. And while there are no doubts about Jakob Poeltl’s expertise in that department, it did look a bit strange that he averaged less then one block per game until recently. He rectified that number last night in spectacular fashion. As good a thing as rim deterrence is, it’s just so much more fun watching Jakob reject guys with maximum authority. It’s even more fun when waiver wire pickup Charles Bassey joins in. In general, watching that mountain of a man out there on the court is fun. Even though, and in stark contrast to Jakob, he really doesn’t know what to do with the ball offense. He doesn’t necessarily need to, though. Because he appears to be able to shoot the ball — again, in stark contrast to Jakob.
- The Spurs are stacked with fun players, but the most fun guy of the lot to me is Jeremy Sochan. And I’m predicting that he’ll be even more fun in the future. The guy is everywhere on the court – and often exactly where you want him to be. Other than shooting he appears completely fearless, and he’s looking more and more like a prime example of that kind of guy you really don’t want to play against. Yeah, very much like Draymond Green and Dennis Rodman. Just more talented than those two. “I want some nasty”, Pop famously said years ago. Well, nasty’s taken care of with Sochan.
- Going into the season, the understaffed guard position looked to me like a key element in the Spurs’ tanking scheme. Tre Jones was, and is, the only real point guard on the roster, But he had been a bit part player before. Some suggested a guy now no longer on the roster should be used as the primary ball handler instead. But Tre Jones is proving everyone wrong. And he’s getting better all the time. We knew him as a trustworthy ball handler and distributor. But now he’s flashing playmaking potential not seen from him before. I’m excited to find out what kind of player Tre will be once he reaches his prime. Until then, let’s enjoy the feel-good story that he personifies.