In past years, the Spurs used their G League affiliate to develop their rookies, so fans had no choice but to catch a game or look at some stats to see how the prospects were doing. This year, with rookies in San Antonio, it’s been easier to lose touch with the Austin Spurs, but interesting stuff has been going on with them involving some familiar names.
Now, the Spurs’ record in the showcase was 5-13 and is currently 4-9 in the regular season, so things at the team level have not been good, but what really matters is how the prospects the big team is invested in are doing. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how some of the more recognizable players are performing.
Charles Bassey is too good for the G League
When Bassey first joined the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich gave a simple answer as to why they were giving him some minutes.
“He came in and played a couple of G League games, scored a thousand points in both games, it was like, well, maybe we’re dumb, we should be playing this guy.”
Since going back to Austin, Bassey has continued to put insane numbers. He’s currently averaging 22.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 10 regular season appearances while shooting 68 percent from the floor and 37 percent from beyond the arc. In his second to last game, he dropped 40 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. His tenacity on the offensive boards, athleticism and touch around the rim were all on full display, and he also showed off some nice passing and range.
Bassey is in that strange place where he clearly is too good for the G League but still has some question marks, mainly in the defensive end, that prevent him from being an established rotation player in the NBA. The Spurs have him on a two-way deal and can call him up for 26 more games before having to sign him to a standard contract but barring injuries or a trade, he’ll likely spend time in Austin. Still, it’s good to know that if San Antonio needs some depth at center, they have arguably the most well-rounded big man in the G League at their disposal.
Dominick Barlow is intriguing but has a long way to go
The Spurs’ other two-way player is more of a project, which is not a surprise. Barlow went undrafted in 2022 in large part because teams were unsure of how he’d fare against better competition. Standing at 6’9” and with a 7’3 wingspan, he clearly has the physical tools that every franchise craves from a forward, as his size and quickness should allow him to guard multiple positions, but there’s still a lot of room for growth.
The main issue with Barlow is his lack of a reliable outside shot. He barely takes threes and when he does, he only connects on about a quarter of them. That’s simply not good enough for a player who projects to be a power forward at the NBA level. Barlow does a lot of other things well, such as rebounding and offering disruptive defense, as his per game averages of eight boards and 1.5 blocks show, and he can be fun to watch when he flashes his potential as a ball handler and switchable defender. Those skills will also be important for his future. but if the shot never comes along, it’s hard to imagine him making it into the league.
In a lot of ways, Barlow is similar to the two power forwards San Antonio has on its roster, Jeremy Sochan and Keita Bates-Diop, but simply not as good. He’s at his more comfortable around the paint, which could signal that he might be better off adding muscle and trying to be a small ball center, but he’s just 19-year-old so there’s time for him to get consistent at least from the corner as a floor spacer, which could increase his potential as a do-it-all forward. He’s spent some time with the big team, but it’s probably best for him to stay in the G League and try to develop with no added pressure.
Jordan Hall is running out of time
Remember Jordan Hall? At one point he was on a standard deal with the San Antonio Spurs and actually suited up for nine games before being waived to make room for his now Austin Spurs teammate Alize Johnson when the team needed big man depth. Since then he’s been a part of their G League affiliate and it’s fair to say he has not been doing too well.
Hall is averaging 5.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists so far in the G League regular season while shooting 23.5 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also still struggling with turnovers, as he’s dishing 2.7 assists per game but coughing the ball up 1.9 times while doing it. His numbers are similar to the ones he posted in his short NBA stint but against much weaker opponents, which is a huge concern.
When Hall was waived the reports suggested that it was just a positional issue caused by injuries and that they were still intrigued by him. It’s not hard to see why, as San Antonio has gravitated towards big ball handlers and the fully realized version of Hall is a point forward who is not afraid to let it fly from outside and offers some versatility on defense. The issue is that it seems unlikely the 21-year-old will reach his potential any time soon.
Hall is out now after entering the health and safety protocols. After that, he’ll have around 20 games to show enough progress to still merit a closer look or he could face an uphill battle trying to get another team to take a flyer on him.