The San Antonio Spurs avenged their preseason loss to the Houston Rockets from earlier this week in a 117-103 victory on Wednesday night. Preseason or not, every game is an opportunity to learn a little more about the youngest team in the NBA, especially playing the second game in a row against another rebuilding organization and in-state rival. It's crucial to avoid putting too much stock into the outcome of the contest, but we should monitor noticeable trends from the good guys.
1.) The limitless potential of the positionless starting lineup
Okay, maybe “limitless” is laying it on a bit thick, but the preseason premiere of the long-awaited (and, if you ask some Spurs fans, divisive) jumbo lineup featuring Jeremy Sochan at point guard offered an intriguing glimpse at what is possible. Inserting Sochan at the one over the steady hand of Tre Jones could mean San Antonio is leaning into the chaos that could come with a non-traditional lineup, and watching how this experiment progresses will be an intriguing development to keep an eye on this season.
While Sochan is not in the mold of your typical table-setter, he can deliver entry passes and keep the ball humming. He'll need to continue improving his pick-and-roll craft and work on having a plan when driving into the teeth of the defense. However, he's already effective at ripping and running, spraying the ball around in transition, and probing in a half-court setting with a defender locked on his hip or back.
The lineup's offensive viability ultimately lies in the fact that each player — Sochan, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Victor Wembanyama, and Zach Collins — can be dangerous with the ball in their hands on multiple levels. Everyone but Collins is comfortable bringing the ball up the court, portending many potential easy transition buckets where the defense is left scrambling toward new assignments and revealing mismatches.
Pick your poison: Collins destroying mismatches in the low post or dissecting defenses from up top, Wemby getting to any shot in his galaxy-sized bag at a moment's notice, Vassell flowing into handoffs for easy pull-ups, Johnson spotting up as a constant off-the-catch threat to attack gaps or rise up if left alone, or Sochan bludgeoning bodies on his way to the rim for a score, foul drawn, or timely dump-off.
If Sochan is making open threes at a respectable clip — he has gone 2-of-3 in the preseason and had a two-month stretch last season where he converted 33% of his long-distance looks — there is nowhere for the defense to hide or sag off on this lineup.