The San Antonio Spurs lost another heartbreaker, relinquishing a double-digit lead for the third consecutive game as they fell 86-87 to the Atlanta Hawks. Head coach Mitch Johnson and crew remain winless in Las Vegas, but fans got a contest teeming with encouraging signs from a plethora of fascinating teenage prospects.
Blake Wesley led the Silver and Black with 20 points, six assists, and two steals, Malaki Branham added 13 points and two rebounds, and Dominick Barlow chipped in four points, seven boards, four assists, and two blocks. Tyson Etienne paced Atlanta with 21 points on five trifectas, with Sharife Cooper notching 15 points and four dimes.
- Malaki Branham has looked more comfortable and aggressive with each passing Summer League game under his belt, and he launched five shot attempts in the opening quarter. From handling pick-and-rolls and taking smooth jumpers off dribble handoffs to deliberate drives and stop-on-a-dime pullups in transition, the rookie swingman has a multifaceted scoring repertoire that belies his age.
- In yet another unfortunate turn for the Summer Spurs, Darius Days sat on the sidelines with an illness. The undrafted forward was outstanding in his three Vegas games, averaging 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds while nailing 55.6% of his field goal attempts. Days was the epitome of a role player for head coach Mitch Johnson, and the 22-year-old might be the frontrunner to walk away with a two-way contract opportunity.
- Blake Wesley has been the most electric prospect on the court each time he has suited up for the Silver and Black at Summer League. The 19-year-old combo guard is an unmistakable advantage creator, bending opposing defenses with his outlandish first step and shifty ball-handling. He needs to polish his game, but the crosscourt skip passes, self-creation potential, and disruptive perimeter defense are a tantalizing baseline.
- Robert Woodard would probably be near the top of the list for the biggest disappointments of Summer League. But he has enough tools to sustain a little interest as a possible project player for a rebuilding team. Should the Spurs take a chance on the bruising forward? San Antonio is one two-way contract from meeting maximum capacity, so probably not.
- D.J. Stewart Jr. is another Summer League youngster who seems unlikely to earn a roster spot with San Antonio, but that has nothing to do with his performance in Las Vegas. After taking guards with six of their last seven draft picks, their backcourt is too crowded to invest minutes into another swingman. The Mississippi State alumnus is an exceptional cutter, reliable spot-up shooter, unselfish passer, and tenacious defender. Stewart is one of those guys who can provide any franchise depth insurance.
- You don’t need to watch much tape to see why the Spurs inked Dominick Barlow to a two-way deal despite originating from an unproven Overtime Elite program. The 19-year-old has remarkable fluidity, slides his feet well on the perimeter, and spreads the court. These traits are uncommon for a six-ten player, and Barlow is scratching the surface of his talents. He also has several areas of improvement before he is ready to contribute at the next level. His last-second turnover cost the Spurs a game-winning shot, but those mistakes are part of the learning process.
- The San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks are now the only two teams without a win at Las Vegas Summer League this year. The latter will have a chance to stop their streak against the Milwaukee Bucks later today, but the good guys will have to wait until this weekend to get their taste of an elusive victory. Results are arguably the least vital part of this experience. With that said, a win would be a great way to close things out in Sin City.
- Despite coming agonizingly close to winning their first Las Vegas Summer League game, the Spurs should be ecstatic with some of the flashes from their assemblage of young talent. PATFO should also use this matchup as a delightful reminder that Atlanta owes them a pick swap and a couple of unprotected first-rounders over the next five years. Saying goodbye to an All-Star like Dejounte Murray was one of the most challenging things this organization has done during the Gregg Popovich era, but it could pay off for them sooner than later. Murray is under contract until 2024 before the Hawks owe him a max contract, and who knows how well Trae Young will mesh with another ball-dominant guard after monopolizing touches since coming into the league.
For the Hawks fans’ perspective, please visit Peachtree Hoops.
The San Antonio Spurs will play their final Summer League game this weekend, so stay tuned as the NBA announces the details of that matchup.