In the San Antonio Spurs' fifth and final game of the preseason, the team fought until the end but ultimately fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a final score of 118 - 112. The team was fully healthy in last night's matchup, starting with the same starting five of Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, and Jakob Poeltl--the same lineup that will reportedly be the "likely" regular season starting lineup as well.
Without further ado, these were the standout players of the game.
The dud: Jeremy Sochan
Fans have been clamoring for years now for Coach Popovich to throw one of the Spurs rookies into the frying pan, and even for a top-ten pick, games like this can sometimes be the result. The speed of the NBA finally caught up to Jeremy Sochan a bit last night as he frequently looked a step behind and made rushed decisions as a result. He missed a bunny around the rim that probably should've been an easy dunk, made a lazy closeout on defense that resulted in a flagrant foul, and got the ball poked away a few times.
These are things that should be expected from most rookies, particularly rookies that are immediately inserted into the starting lineup with players that he's been playing with for only a month or so. This was the first game of Sochan's that left me underwhelmed and it likely won't be the last, but even so, he still managed to show what made him a lottery pick. He disrupted several passes on defense, contested players well at the rim, ran the floor well, and even hit a high-pressure three-pointer at the end of the game. Similarly to my thoughts on Josh Primo last week, I'm not concerned.
The studs: Josh Primo and Devin Vassell
If you recall, when I classified Josh Primo as the "dud" of the Spurs' fourth preseason game against the Utah Jazz, I noted that I wasn't even close to being in panic mode over him, let alone being concerned much at all. This showing was evidence of precisely why. He was undoubtedly more comfortable last night, moving well with the ball in his hands and executing reads with more precision.
Primo ended the night with 23 points, 4 assists, and 1 block on a highly efficient 8/12 from the floor. His ballhandling looked just as good as last game, he showed excellent touch around the rim, and went 6/6 from the free-throw line. He could have shot the ball a bit better from beyond the arc and probably could have taken care of the ball a bit better. But in only his second game back from injury, this was a fantastic performance from him.
Meanwhile, Devin Vassell has continued to shine in his increased role, ending his night with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. His shot creation isn't quite there yet and he wasn't particularly efficient from the floor on this occasion, but he's shown flashes of brilliance nonetheless and has continued to be very aggressive on both ends of the floor. He's naturally going to be gaining more attention by opposing defenses this year, so expect some growing pains, but it won't surprise me a bit to see him continue to improve as the season goes on.