In a shocking turn of events, the San Antonio Spurs secured their second win of the season against Joel Embiid, James Harden, and the Philadelphia 76ers in rather dominant fashion, finishing the game with a final score of 114-105. This outcome was obviously what everyone was expecting, right? ...Right?
In all seriousness, while I'd like to see Victor Wembanyama in the silver and black just as much as anyone else, this unlikely victory is certainly worth celebrating. The Spurs' young players showed more promising developmental signs, the veterans stepped up in a big way (likely increasing their trade value in the process), and the league was reminded that the Spurs are still the Spurs, even if they're going through a transitional period.
These are the studs and dud of the Spurs win in Philadelphia.
The dud: Tre Jones
Similarly to the Spurs' previous win over the Pacers, I was mostly pleased with how everyone performed on Saturday evening, but I won't go so far as to say the game was perfect. Despite a still-decent performance from him, Tre Jones had a game that didn't exactly spark a ton of enthusiasm in me.
Jones scored the ball well on this occasion, racking up 17 points mostly in transition and off of drives, but it's what Jones didn't do in this game that's leaving me a bit underwhelmed. Specifically, he looked hesitant to shoot threes again and he only managed to tally 4 assists, which was tied for second-most on the team with Josh Primo. Thankfully, these minor complaints didn't amount to anything close to catastrophic, but considering he also had 4 turnovers to go with those assists, I'm not sure how confident I feel that he'll retain the starting point guard job through the entire season.
The studs: Devin Vassell & Jakob Poeltl
I have a strong feeling this will begin to feel like a "water is wet" statement sooner rather than later, but Devin Vassell left me the most impressed out of every Spur on Saturday evening. He ended his night with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal, shooting 64% from the floor and 50% from three-point land. While he wasn't the top scorer of the night when factoring in Joel Embiid, he certainly felt like the most efficient scorer of the night considering the volume of shots he took, and his defense was still as impressive as ever.
Many of Vassell's points were assisted this time around, but after a very slow start in his first game of the season, walking before running was key for Vassell to getting back to looking like his normal self. As he grows more comfortable being one of the Spurs' primary options, I'll be expecting to see more drives to the hoop, some more action for him out of the pick-and-roll, and more of the pull-up shooting that he's already been teasing.
While it's true that Joel Embiid seemed to finally find his footing in his game against the Spurs, with all things considered, Jakob Poeltl held his own relatively well. He ended his night with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block. He made timely plays, including grabbing a critical offensive rebound toward the end of the game, took care of the ball (only recording 1 turnover), and made Embiid's life at least slightly more difficult in the paint.
The Spurs will be facing the Minnesota Timberwolves up next this coming Monday in Minneapolis at 7:00 PM CST.