Despite Devin Vassell scoring a game high 29 points, the Spurs could not get away from the flames of the red-hot Sacramento Kings. The good guys were missing Keldon Johnson and Doug McDermott, but a slow start and cold finish would ultimately doom their prospects. Keita Bates-Diop, stepping in for Johnson, contributed 16 points while Tre Jones had 15 points and 4 assists.
Vassell was a bright spot for the Spurs, carrying the team to the tune of playing team-high minutes, scoring game-high points, and shooting 4-9 from deep. His and Johnson’s breakout seasons are no longer merely a formality but a reality. Vassell in particular has shown off his two-way game this season, and it’ll be exciting to see him continue to grow.
Keita Bates-Diop, always one to rise to the occasion, did not disappoint as a fill-in. Here, he showed off some pretty moves with a spinning left-handed finish at the rim. Bates-Diop also played heavy minutes as the Spurs tried to keep up with the high-flying Kings.
KBD's cookin' early!— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 18, 2022
11 PTS | 3 REB pic.twitter.com/HAf0Rb3j2g
Jeremy Sochan is already an impactful rookie on the defensive end, but his offensive abilities continue to shock Spurs fans (in a good way). Apparently, his repertoire includes a nasty spin move with a throw-in dunk for good measure.
No other Spurs rookie in recent memory has had this much run with the starters, but everyone is in on the Sochan.
A part of Vassell’s growth as a go-to player is his off ball movement. He’s always been a smart player, but this season his subtle, endless motor has paid dividends as a facilitator and a scorer in many capacities. Vassell continues to display the high ceiling on his offensive game.
Switching hands in mid-air to finish at (I mean above) the rim? Sure, I mean all NBA rookies have that in their bag right? But do they scream “Wildcard!” before jumping out the back of a moving van after cutting the brakes? No? Then maybe I can interest you in an egg or milk steak during these trying times as a Spurs fan.
The losses are starting to pile up, but not for lack of trying from these players. It’s quite enjoyable to watch them grow–especially Sochan providing leaping highlights on a nightly basis.
Isaiah Roby himself has been a nice gem this season, soaking up minutes off the bench and providing needed energy with the second unit. Roby also poured in 11 points and had two blocks for the night.
Here, Roby had a fantastic block that led to a Josh Richardson three.
ROBY BLOCK ➡️ JRICH THREEE— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 18, 2022
The squad is handlin' business on both ends! pic.twitter.com/x58xadrpmm
This time, Roby is the recipient of a quick defense to offense sequence. A Gorgui Dieng block led to a Tre Jones facilitated fast break that ended with an Isaiah Roby dunk–parlying good defense to generate easy buckets.
Aggressive defense ➡️ instant offense pic.twitter.com/Htlkix1GMY— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 18, 2022
Tre Jones coaxed this shot in between two defenders after a nice cut to the basket. I cannot overstate how important Jones’s point guard game has been important to these Spurs. At this point, I’d venture to say he’s a rich man’s Corey Joseph and a poor man’s Tony Parker in terms of bringing a balanced game of defense and offense at the point guard position. No one can match Parker’s speed and offensive game, especially around the basket, but Jones is surprising many observers with his solid offense this season.
The Spurs had a slow start, but Isaiah Roby made sure to finish on a high with a buzzer beater to end the quarter.
And last but never least, the full-game highlights:
Next up, the Spurs continue their 5-game road trip with a stop in La-La Land to take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, November 19, 2022.