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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Pistons

New faces. Old foes. New paths. Familiar result.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a busy week, an exceptionally busy week. A week in which what happened on the basketball court played a strikingly small role for me. And by that I don’t only mean what happened at the trade deadline. What I mainly mean is this: I hadn’t been as busy in my regular job for quite some time. I guess that’s what happens when you work for a software company that’s about to enter into a major sales push. Not that I’m a sales guy. I’m the guy who’s with the company because he’s kinda good with words. Well, better at words than sales guys and software developers, I guess. Both of whom have skills I’d love to have. In particular when I think about ChatGPT. (But that’s another topic.)

Anyway, the week was so busy that I slept like a baby last night. The major reason was that yesterday I continued to work until late in the evening, to do what I would normally be doing on Monday. But I’m off on Monday. Because tomorrow I’m having a yearly recurring get-together with some old colleagues of mine.

Only one of us is a football fan, but of course I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday. Our yearly get-together has been at my place for some years, and so this morning I got into the car to go shopping for beer, wine, all sorts of chicken, snacks, and also soft drinks. Soft drinks are important. Because my friends will be around at 8pm. And that’s four and half hours to kickoff. And we don’t want to be mentally incapacitated when Lukas starts explaining to us what’s happening on the pitch, do we? (Yup, Lukas is the only one of us who knows anything about football.)

So, when I was driving to the supermarket earlier, I was in very high spirits. It was around noon and I thought to myself that I’m good in time: All the shopping will soon be done, then you’re going to tidy up the flat, and tomorrow you’ll be decorating the living room. And then, suddenly, it occurred to me: “Shit! The Spurs played last night! And you’re signed up to do the “What We Learned!”

And so the tidying up of the flat remains a “to do.”


  • With Jakob traded back to the Raptors, and with the Spurs’ remaining four regular starters all sidelined, the starting five was made up of hitherto backup big Zach Collins, second- and third-string forwards Keita-Bates-Diop and Isaiah Roby as well as and first-year rookies Malaki Branham and Blake Weseley in the backcourt. And it was those two who went on the court to, so it appeared to me, make it very clear: “Right! This is gonna be our team for the rest of the season!” The pair combined for the Spurs’ first 10 points and at least Malaki continued to show throughout the game that he could play an integral part on any future Spurs team as a multi-level scorer, going 4-8 from beyond the arch, 7-10 from the charity stripe, and scoring 27 points overall. Admittedly, Blake is a complete work in progress: very active, but getting himself into trouble very often, with the only way “out” a bad pass. Nevertheless, with Josh Richardson also traded away, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for Blake to develop his game over the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, witnessing plenty of progress from Blake.
  • However, the guy who’s really going to be in the limelight for the remainder of the season is the guy who, per default, has just been promoted from backup to starting center. And that guy is Zach Collins. And that Zach Collins put in a major performance last night. I didn’t check whether Jakob Pöltl ever scored 29 points in Silver & Black. It doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that Zach went for an efficient 11-16 from the field for 29 points the first night in his new role. And that’s, even though it came in a double overtime game, mightily impressive. Zach used the opportunity and made a statement straight away. He’s probably never going to be the rim protector Jakob was, but I wouldn’t describe Zack as an all-offensive center either. The guarantee of the unguaranteed third year of his contract should be a no-brainer by now.
  • Devonte Graham is a guy whom I never expected to see in Silver & Black. He might win me over, who knows, but I’m a little worried his ability to self-create three-point shots might cut into the development opportunities of our first-year rookies. But the ability to self-create and make three-point shots is valuable in today’s NBA. And I wonder what Devonte would be able to do if he was just a bit longer.
  • I’ll finish this with some words on a guy whom I’ve been wanting to talk about for some time now, but maybe never have. Keita-Bates Diop is one of those “unsung heroes” really no one sings about, me neither. I wonder why. He embodies just about everything you’d want from a third-stringer: He’s alert all the time, rarely does anything silly, and can do a bit of everything. Last night, he was the only starting Spur with a positive plusminus. I’m sure he’d be dominating European leagues with his impressive physical tools and all-round sound game. I’d rather have him on future Spurs’ rosters, though. But for now I really need to tidy up that flat of ours. Talk soon, Pounders!