Spurs Rookie Watch: Luka Šamanić working on his game in the G-League

Luka Samanic of the Austin Spurs dribbles up the court during the 2019 NBA Summer League. (Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Luka Samanic of the Austin Spurs dribbles up the court during the 2019 NBA Summer League. (Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

San Antonio Spurs rookie Luka Šamanić could end up being a versatile power forward but he will have to pay his dues in the G-League first.

When the San Antonio Spurs selected Luka Samanic in the first round of the 2019 Draft it was immediately clear that he would need time to work on his body and his game in the G-League for a while. He’s spent his rookie season playing for the Austin Spurs in the G-League alongside fellow first-rounder Keldon Johnson. How are things going for Luka so far?

With his first few months in the development league in his belt, Luka has been steady and impressive so far for the Austin Spurs. It was reported back in October that he was putting on lean muscle in order to physically compete in the NBA. Per Tom Orsborn of mySA, Luka put on about 10 pounds of muscle thanks to a new strength regime and a tweaked diet.

It’s no surprise that his physical stature can be considered a weakness, even after his recent bulk up, given his lanky frame. At his listed height and weight of 6-10 and 227 pounds, other power forwards could potentially bully him. He’s got a while before he can go toe to toe with the big men in the NBA but seeing him making developing his body a priority is an encouraging sign

It’s an aspect even Spurs CEO R.C Buford says he needs to improve. Buford recently spoke to Jeff Garcia with Spurs Zone about Luka’s development.  He pointed out the areas that the young Spur needs to work on but was quick to point out the potential that makes Samanic such an exciting prospect.

“Luka’s size and his skill is something you could get excited about,” Buford said. “He’s got to get tighter with his game. He’s got to get stronger.”

Luka has shown plenty of potential during his time in Austin. So far, he’s generating 14.2 points and garnered 6.8 rebounds and two assists per game in 12 games. He’s put some impressive moves and shots on tape, which thankfully JeffGSpursZone was able to get.

Check out Luka Samanic's smooth shooting stroke from 3 line. #nba #gospursgo pic.twitter.com/tV15AOuN1O

— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) December 8, 2019

Here's Samanic showing off this nifty spin move drive for the bucket. #nba #gospursgo pic.twitter.com/NLLGDSAIiL

— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) November 24, 2019

One thing Luka has struggled with a bit has been turnovers. Currently, he has 38 on the year and is tied for 12th in the G-League. With him being only 19 and still getting used to the aggressiveness of the G-League, it’s fairly normal he’s struggling in this area. He needs to find a way to turn up the aggressiveness and find ways to maintain possession rather than lose it.

A perfect example of his turnover troubles was in his matchup with the Iowa Wolves, where he committed 6 turnovers. If Gregg Popovich can’t trust him to not turn over the ball it will be hard for Samanic to get consistent playing time when he is ready.

One thing Luka did struggle with initially was his FT percentage. In November, it sat at around 70 percent but now he’s got it up to a more respectable 80 percent.

Next. The 4 greatest San Antonio Spurs role players of the decade

Overall, Luka has settled in quite well in the G-League so far. He’s had a couple of growing pains but they haven’t been catastrophic, and he’s working on quelling them. His versatility has shined and fans have thought maybe he should get a chance in the big leagues. He’s got quite a bit of work to do still but should be a valuable asset to the San Antonio Spurs in the coming years.