Here’s what stood out most in the San Antonio Spurs second scrimmage
The San Antonio Spurs came up short once again, but just like the game against the Milwaukee Bucks, there was plenty to like about the team’s performance against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
The Spurs rolled out the same starting lineup that they had against the Bucks. After that first scrimmage, Becky Hammon talked about the importance of getting Dejounte Murray and Derrick White more minutes together. Featuring those two in the starting lineup has been something Spurs fans have been calling for for months now. Seeing them there in back to back scrimmages has been a very welcomed sight.
The scrimmage didn’t start out as the Spurs had hoped. Early turnovers helped the Nets come out to an early lead. Not taking care of the basketball was a thorn in the Spurs side in the scrimmage with the Bucks and came back to bite them against the Nets as well. But after a few early hiccups, the Spurs were able to get things rolling and fight their way back into the game.
San Antonio was led in scoring by Derrick White, who had an amazing game, followed by Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker. White was the star of the show today but Keldon Johnson and Marco Belinelli also had standout performances for a Spurs team that kept the score close until the very end.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from the San Antonio Spurs’ second scrimmage.
Next: Derrick White goes off
Derrick White pops off for the San Antonio Spurs
A few early turnovers slowed him down but Derrick White quickly responded. He caught fire in this one and led the Spurs in scoring. He was aggressive from the beginning and was consistently putting pressure on Nets defenders.
White isn’t the most explosive guard but he’s got excellent body control and he uses his solid frame to get into the lane and find his spots. In this scrimmage, he was consistently looking for contact and then adjusting in the air to be able to get a good shot off. He played downhill at all times and was a monster while attacking the rim.
He’s known more for his slashing ability than his shooting and you could see Nets defenders opting to slide under screens rather than chase White around them, preferring to leave the long ball open rather than give him a clear path to the rim. But with the way White was shooting the ball, that might not have been the best strategy.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 25, 2020
White would end the game 4 for 7 from 3-point range. His continued development as a shooter is huge for San Antonio. He and Dejounte have the defensive chops to be one of the leagues better backcourts but scoring and spacing the floor could be issues at times. If White can continue to improve from behind the arc it’ll make both of their lives easier on offense.
Next: Keldon continues to attack
Keldon Johnson continues to be aggressive for the San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson only plays at one speed and it’s attacking. He’s constantly looking to drive the ball to the rim and is great at using his body to both give out and receive contact with ease.
In back to back possessions, Johnson took it to the rack, got hit, and still managed to finish and get the and-one opportunity. He would knock down his first free throw and helped tie the game for the Spurs in the late goings of the scrimmage.
Johnson has been giving us hints that he’s ready to take off for a while now and through these first two scrimmages he’s been making the most of his minutes. The slashing aspect of his game was something we already knew he had, along with solid defense. But he’s stepping up in other areas that are really telling.
He’s ripping down rebounds and leading the break, he’s knocking down mid-range jumpers, and he’s setting up his teammates with crisp passes. He’s well on his way to being a permanent part of the Spurs rotations and is looking like the latest gem the San Antonio Spurs have been able to get at the end of the first round.
Next: Defense is an issue
The San Antonio Spurs need to shore up their perimeter defense
If the performances of White and Johnson are the positive takeaways from this scrimmage, the San Antonio Spurs halfway there perimeter defense was negative.
Nets guards got to the rim like they were playing against chairs and were frequently left open for easy looks from behind the arc. Caris LeVert was absolutely cooking every Spurs defender he was matched up against. LeVert is a good player in his own right but he looked like an All-Star out there against the Spurs.
There were bright spots to be sure, Johnson, in particular, had one play where he perfectly absorbed contact while going straight up and made it almost impossible for his man to get a good shot off. It’s moments like that that keep hope in the hearts of Spurs fans who believe that this group can be something special on the defensive end.
Improving on defense was a point of emphasis for Becky Hammon after the scrimmage against the Nets and I suspect it will be something that the coaches focus on again after this matchup. Tinkering with lineups could be the answer, perhaps the team just needs a few more days to knock all the rust off. Either way, they’ll have to improve on that end if they want to have a chance at closing the gap for the final playoff spot.
The Spurs will get their final chance to prepare for the regular season when they take the floor against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.