The San Antonio Spurs will square off against Brandon MIller and the Charlotte Hornets tonight in the second matchup of the sixth annual California Classic. After an 85-day hiatus that included winning a golden ticket in the lottery and selecting Victor Wembanyama with the number one overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, fans will finally see their favorite franchise in action.
Summer League is the best chance for diehard hoopaholics to see up-and-coming prospects make their first impressions or returning players announce their arrival, and General Manager Brian Wright has put together a talented roster of rookies, sophomores, and league hopefuls. Each of them has a skill that could help them stick, so what sets them apart from their peers?
Malaki Branham: Midrange Craft
Malaki Branham started the year at the end of the rotation for the Spurs, but he soon earned a spot in the second unit rotation thanks to his promising three-level scoring. The smooth guard put himself on the map when he averaged 18.1 points per game in the eight matchups before the All-Star Break, and he ended his rookie season as an instrumental spark plug for a shorthanded lineup.
His refined footwork, patience as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, and polish in the midrange as a teenager were a sight to behold, and San Antonio should toss Branham the keys to the offense as they travel to Sacramento for the California Classic. While he will probably never become a go-to option in the NBA, now is the perfect time to help him build confidence for his sophomore campaign.