Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy!
The Spurs went winless for the second week in a row, extending their current losing streak to eight and having lost 13 of their last 14 games. After spending an exhausting week on the road, playing five games in seven nights on the Pacific coast, the Spurs finally returned home for a three-game homestand that seemed to have a win in there somewhere, especially with two games against the struggling Lakers, but it was not meant to be.
After a couple days of rest, the Spurs opened the week with a rising Pelicans team that had a healthy Zion Williamson back, and he made his presence known early and often, giving Jeremy Sochan his first true “welcome to the NBA” game in a week that would be full of them. He flexed and gestured at the rookie throughout, symbolizing another blowout loss for a Spurs team that has struggled on both ends of the court since their surprising 5-2 start.
The week ended with back-to-back home games against the Lakers. While the results were still both losses, at least they were the first single-digit ones for the Spurs in almost two weeks. The first match-up was saw both teams struggle on offense, and although the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, the Spurs used a big third quarter run to get back into the game and make the final score more respectable.
The second matchup was just the opposite: and offensive shootout for the Spurs’ most points of the season, but it still wasn’t enough as LeBron James scored 39 points and enjoyed giving Sochan another “welcome to the NBA” game from a legend. On the bright side, they showed heart and hung in late despite losing Sochan and Poeltl to injuries during the game and Zach Collins to a questionable flagrant 2 foul, plus it was by far the Spurs best offensive night since their thrilling OT loss to the Grizzles three weeks prior, so hopefully it’s a sign that they’re starting to wake up on that side of the ball.
Stat of the week - KJ joins Manu in some elite company
Keldon Johnson now has 1,000 career rebounds.— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) November 24, 2022
Only one other Spurs player had 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 250 threes in his first four seasons: Manu Ginobili.
Yep, these are no longer Power Rankings, because intentionally or not, the Spurs are officially bottoming out.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 30 (last week: 28)
OffRtg: 108.0 (27) DefRtg: 118.0 (30) NetRtg: -10.0 (30) Pace: 102.0 (7)
At this point, it’s not unfair to wonder if the Spurs will win another game. They’ve lost eight straight and 13 of their 14 games in the month of November, ranking 29th offensively and last (by a wide margin) defensively this month. Prior to Saturday, the Spurs had a stretch of five straight games in that they never led beyond the 8:57 mark of the first quarter. That streak came to an end when they had their best offensive game of the season (138 points on 107 possessions) on Saturday, but they allowed the same from the Lakers’ 28th-ranked offense and lost to L.A. for the third time in seven days.
There have been some positives in the starting lineup. Devin Vassell continues to shoot well from both mid-range (47.6%) and beyond the arc (41.9%). Jeremy Sochan had nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block on Friday, and now ranks second among rookies with 2.1 deflections per game. And Tre Jones had his best offensive game of the season on Saturday, scoring 23 points (on 9-for-13 shooting) and dishing out 13 assists (with just one turnover). Though the Spurs have been outscored by 10.0 points per 100 possessions overall, the starting lineup is just a minus-1.7 per 100 in its 141 minutes.
Those minutes were limited on Saturday, because both Sochan and Jakob Poeltl missed the second half with quad injuries. The Spurs will likely remain careful in regard to ailments, but they’re playing just three games over a span of 11 days that began Sunday.
Zach Harper, The Athletic — 30 (last week: 29)
Who is the new face? Jeremy Sochan
How’d they get him? Drafted with ninth pick this summer.
How’s that going? I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the Sochan pick in June. I thought Jalen Williams or Jalen Duren would’ve been a better pick at the time. And maybe they still would be, but Sochan is a really fun prospect. He wasn’t much of an outside shooter at Baylor, and that has held true through the early part of his rookie campaign. He’s flashed a bit of a midrange jumper, though, and maybe that can help bring his free-throw shooting and outside shooting up at some point. But he’s so active and gets a good amount of shots at the rim, and he’s really good at finishing. I don’t know what the Spurs are building yet, but he’s the exact type of role player you could see being a staple of their rotation for a decade.
Grade the move now: C+
Enzo Flojo, Clutch Points — 30 (last week: 28)
If the Spurs aren’t careful, they’ll “overtake” Houston in terms of having the worst Western Conference win-loss slate. Remember that this team has not seen a victory since the second week of November, losing eight straight games and holding the worst average point differential by a wide margin. Oh well, at least we know they actually ARE in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
Prediction: 1-2 — The more the Spurs lose, the closer they are to their next win, right? As Keldon Johnson as keeps gradually climbing out of his rut, I believe this team feels its next win is just around the corner, and a good opportunity awaits after a much-needed extended break to start the week. (Of course, a lot of this depends on if Sochan and Poeltl are ready to go again by Wednesday.)