In their opening night game against the Charlotte Hornets at home this past Wednesday, the San Antonio Spurs fell in a rather demoralizing outing with a final score of 129-102. The team collectively struggled to score for the large majority of the game and shot a combined 7/34 (20.6%) from three-point land.
If your first thought is that there weren't many "studs" worth mentioning from this game, you aren't that far off base. Considering this game was against a Charlotte Hornets team sans LaMelo Ball, many likely saw this outing as very winnable. It may not feel particularly gratifying to look for positives in a losing effort like this, but this surely won't be the only tough loss of the season and optimism will be the name of the game in what will likely be a race to the bottom.
So, without further ado, these were the studs and dud of the game.
The dud: Devin Vassell
Considering how much Devin Vassell was hyping the Spurs up prior to tonight's game, this feels a bit ironic. But he ended his game against the Hornets with 11 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal, having shot 20% from the floor on 15 shot attempts and missing all eight of his three-point attempts. Nerves were clearly high for the Spurs' first regular season game of the season and those nerves may have gotten to Vassell more than anyone else.
I'm not concerned quite yet, but Vassell was selected in the draft on the premise that he'd be a plus-shooter in the league. Vassell is the "next man up" in the Spurs' backcourt now that Dejounte Murray and Derrick White have departed the team, and the newfound attention he'll be receiving from opposing defenses will undoubtedly cause some growing pains. On some level, I think that's what we all saw on Wednesday night.
The studs: Keldon Johnson & Jakob Poeltl
Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl looked like two of the Spurs' most consistent players through the preseason and they continued to look the part on Wednesday night. Johnson finished the night with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double, also racking up 4 assists and 2 steals. He also made three of the Spurs' seven total three-point shots, shooting 43% from beyond the arc. He was one of the few players that brought energy on offense and stayed locked in on defense on several occasions.
Jakob Poeltl was similarly impressive, finishing the night with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. He looks noticeably more comfortable putting the ball on the floor and finishing above the rim, is still making great passes, and contested shots around the rim well despite not recording any blocks. Regardless of whether the Spurs plan to trade Poeltl at the deadline or keep him for the foreseeable future, games like this from him will bode very well for the Spurs.
Up next, the Spurs will be facing the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis this coming Friday at 6:00 PM CST.