There weren’t many bright spots in the Spurs’ low-scoring affair against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night. Both shot under 38 percent from the field and struggled to score as a whole, but OKC did just enough to pull away in the fourth quarter after the Spurs, who were missing Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan, fought back from an early 17-point deficit to tie things up in the second half.
But the Spurs still had at least one bright spot, and that was Zach Collins, who has embraced his role as starting center since Jakob Poeltl was traded and brings a new element to the starting unit with his ability to stretch the floor and shoot threes. Last night, he led the way with a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double while shooting 4-5 from three and contributing 4 assists. His only problem was foul trouble impacted his first half playing time, so if he can get that under control, he is making a strong case not only for the Spurs to guarantee the last year of his contract next season, but maybe for him to hold on to the starting center spot, as well.
After not playing at all in the Spurs’ rare full-strength showing against the Nuggets, Devonte’ Graham was back in the starting lineup last night. While it wasn’t his most efficient night shooting from three, hitting just 4-11, he still hit 50 percent of his shots overall and tried to help the Spurs make a final push in the fourth quarter when nothing else would go down.
He also had some encouraging words for Blake Wesley after the game. After a big night in Austin just two nights prior, Wesley returned and probably had one of his worst NBA games yet with a 1-12 showing against OKC while continuously seeming to be acting before thinking about the play in front of him. It has to be tough as he tries to get in the flow following his knee injury, so after the game, Graham said he encouraged Wesley to just keep going and working hard. It’s always great to see a veteran player who is so new to the organization step up, be a leader, and help encourage the young guns, even if they will be vying for his playing time come next season.
Devonte' Graham had some words for Blake Wesley following his 1-for-12 performance:— Matthew Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) March 13, 2023
“‘Let it go.’ I know he’ll go back to the gym, he might even go tonight. He’s been going almost every night, before shootaround, after practice, lifting -- since I’ve been here I’ve noticed it.”
This tracks with what players and coaches have been saying about Wesley all year, especially following his injury: Just going nonstop trying to work his way into the rotation. Spurs love the work ethic guys.— Matthew Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) March 13, 2023
Back to the game itself, the Spurs have some dunkers on the squad, but Doug McDermott and Romeo Langford aren’t usually two who immediately come to mind. However, if you give them a chance, they will obliterate you. Langford’s is especially nice since it came from a half court set with a nice cut and dime from Collins.
Like Wesley, Devin Vassell is another player who is still working himself back into form following his knee surgery, and with a rough outing of his own with just 6 points on 2-10 shooting, he had to be wondering how this went in but his easier shots didn’t.
Finally, the full game highlights: