It is still way to early in the season to claim things are more than they appear in the moment. But with all eyes (and most of the articles) on Victor Wembanyama, let’s take a minute to point out that the Spurs bench is slowly become a force with which to be reckoned.
For those old enough to remember the last Spurs title, it took the bench to maintain —and sometimes extend— what the starting five had accomplished. In fact, in many regular season games, the starting five would often be on the short end of the scoring. It was the sparkplugs like Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, and Boris Diaw that often kept the Spurs competitive for the entire 48 minutes.
It’s happening again in San Antonio.
During the pregame last Monday, Dan Weiss mentioned that both Doug McDermott and Cedi Osman are two of the top five bench three-point shooters.
Having two sharpshooters is an obvious bonus, but another stat Weiss shared during the telecast was that (at that moment) Tre Jones was leading the league in assists from a bench player. He is currently second behind Chris Paul.
While having Jones dish out threes to two guys who can seem to hit at will is a great start, you can’t ignore the threat of Malaki Branham developing into a formidable spot-up midrange shooter. He went 8 of 9 against Toronto the other night. When the ice is running through his veins, he is a completely different player. His confidence needs to continue to grow, and those minutes are gold right now.
Charles Bassey still poses a threat in the paint, coming in and wreaking havoc while Collins gets rest. Sandro Mamukelashvili and Julian Champagnie have barely begun to get minutes, but you can see how vital they will be when players need rest and or are tending to injuries.
As time progresses, Pop will mess with groupings and line-ups. He’ll put that quiet guy in and watch him go off for 10 points in a quarter. Pop will let some young, hungry guy out of the box for an evening and we’ll see just what ambition looks like. It’s why staying ready is so important.
Win or lose, these games are exciting. Even the blow out losses show us some other facet that will come into play when we least expect it.
Keep your eyes peeled, you do not want to miss one moment of Spurs basketball this season.
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