The San Antonio Spurs secured their first win of the preseason last night as they faced the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, finishing with a final score of 111 to 104. In the Spurs' second-to-last preseason outing before starting the regular season, Devin Vassell and Jakob Poeltl made their return after sitting against New Orleans, while Keldon Johnson and Josh Primo got their first doses of action coming off of injuries. These were the standout players of the game.
The dud: Josh Primo
I say "dud" very lightly in this instance because it was very clear that Josh Primo was shaking off some rust after being sidelined due to a knee sprain. Even so, particularly in the first half, Primo left quite a bit to be desired. He ended the game with 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 turnovers.
Considering Primo shot 43% from the field and hit one of his two three-point shots, things could have gone worse for him when it comes to efficiency. But generally speaking, he wasn't asserting himself much on offense, frequently got in trouble due to his indecisiveness with the ball in his hands, and was often quite passive. Rather than making easy plays and allowing the game to come to him, it often looked like he was trying to do a bit too much and his execution was lacking.
Am I in panic mode with Primo? Not even close. He'll need to have a more thought-out plan when he's given on-ball reps, cut down on fouling a bit, and remain aggressive, but I'm not overly concerned after a single preseason game. If there was any promising takeaway from Primo's game yesterday, it was that his ballhandling looked a bit quicker and tighter. If he's to improve as a space creator over the course of the regular season, improving his handles will be key for him.
The studs: Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell
The two longest-tenured members of the Spurs' young core stepped up in a big way last night, both having stuffed the stat sheets and shown promising developmental flashes. Keldon Johnson finished the game with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal and knocked down 4 of his 5 three-point shots. Meanwhile, Devin Vassell finished the game with 24 points and 4 rebounds, hitting 3 of his 5 three-point shots.
Beyond that, there isn't a whole lot more that needs to be said. Their presence was clearly felt on the court, they both showed very promising flashes of self-creation, they were aggressive, and they were ultimately the reasons why the Spurs won the game. Johnson in particular doesn't seem to have missed a beat since the end of last season.