While most of America was spending their Saturday gearing up to watch Taylor Swift watching a football game from a suite (or for 90s kids like myself, brushing up on their Usher lyrics and practicing their dance moves) the San Antonio Spurs were readying themselves for the third game of the Rodeo Road Trip. This trip across the country that takes up practically the entire month of February haven’t been kind to the Spurs the past few years. Since the 2017-18 season, the Spurs have gone 5-32 on the RRT (excluding 2020-21, when they only played three games and went 2-1). After last night, that record is now 5-35, with not a lot of reprieve coming the rest of the way.
Road woes are what come with being a young, not to mention rebuilding, team. One of the main reasons for this is that the NBA schedule and travel can be grueling. Regardless of how talented the roster may be, the more veteran-laden teams just know how to handle playing multiple games away from home better. And now that Doug McDermott is suiting up for the Indiana Pacers, Cedi Osman is the most experienced player on the Spurs who’s in his seventh NBA season. He and Devonte Graham are also the old heads at a whopping 28 years old (they both turn 29 before the season ends).
It’s not surprising given how young this Spurs team is that six of their eight worst shooting games have come on the road, including last night in Brooklyn. And of the 10 games the Spurs have failed to crack 100 points, eight of them were away from home.
Each of these games are learning lessons for every player, even those that don’t hit the court. It may not seem like it as we watch from afar, especially seeing the losses mount up, but Victor Wembanyama, Devin Vassell, and the rest of the roster will be better for it in the future.
- There’s a big three there — it’s just not quite ready yet. That sentence may make some of you guffaw, but it really is there. Wembanyama, Vassell, and Keldon Johnson are a trio that can make moves in this league. They fit together well. They’re all talented in their own ways. They just are in the middle of settling into their hierarchy. It’s been obvious that Wemby was the best of them basically from the jump, and it’s been almost as obvious that Vassell was the second option. Keldon, after being the go-to guy all last season, has had to adjust to a new role, which includes his move to the bench. They’ll continue to grow together and the pieces around them will get better. Pretty soon, we’ll see them lead the Spurs to more wins than losses.
- Nic Claxton is near the top of the list of most underrated players in the league. It feels like nobody has talked about Claxton this year after putting together a Defensive Player of the Year type season last year. With his 20-point, 11-rebound performance last night, he earned his 20th double-double of the season. That’s tied with Karl-Anthony Towns for 18th in the NBA. His athleticism and size make for a deadly combination, and at 24, there should be little doubt that he’ll end up making a pretty big impact on a contender soon. Perhaps next year, given he’ll be an unrestricted free agent when this season wraps up.
- The Spurs traded a shooter and it shows. Surprise, surprise. After trading Doug McDermott away for basically only a second-round pick, the Spurs have looked like they could use a movement shooter. This isn’t to say it was the wrong move, because he would’ve likely signed with another team as a free agent. The Spurs looked at the fact they weren’t going anywhere this season and turned to the future. But as the roster sits now, the Spurs’ three-point threats are Julian Champagnie, Cedi Osman, and Devin Vassell. Cedi lead the three of them in percentage at 38%, but that’s not nearly good enough to be a team’s leading shooter in 2024. Look for this to be addressed in this upcoming offseason.
- Dennis Schröder needs more respect. This past offseason, no contending team was ready to offer a decent contract to Schröder, but a few of them sure could use his talents. Instead, the Toronto Raptors signed him to a two-year deal for just under 13-million dollars per year. Then, when those same contenders could’ve traded for him, he winds up being dealt to the Brooklyn Nets for Spencer Dinwiddie. All this after his 28-point game in the FIBA World Cup Final to lead Germany to the gold medal. He belongs on a team that’ll likely be playing in June.