San Antonio Spurs News

5 Silver and black linings to Spurs' first tank season since '96

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3. Spurs rookies are destined to play serious minutes

In years past, a significant stint in the G League was a right of passage for Spurs rookies, and for good reason. It's an excellent scenario for young players to moonlight in a featured role and get a feel for pro competition before returning to the big leagues for garbage time minutes. But what happens when garbage time is all the time?

San Antonio's three rookies are in line for a sizable amount of playing time beginning first and foremost with the No. 9 pick, Jeremy Sochan. The self-described "cheeky" defensive stalwart has a worldly background and one-of-a-kind playstyle. Sochan immediately fills the Spurs' greatest position of need, power forward, while offering the skill they lacked most, defensive versatility.

With only the veteran marksman Doug McDermott in his path, there's no reason to believe Sochan couldn't snag the starting spot by the All-Star break. At the very least, he'll be an integral part of the rotation by offering a spark of energy off the bench.

Now here's where things get finicky: Malaki Branham (pick 20) and Blake Wesley (pick 25) play completely different styles but might be competing for the same minutes. Branham is a polished shot-maker and physical defender whose bread and butter comes when creating scoring looks off screens or spotting up from deep.

Wesley, the Spurs' primary ball-handler in Summer League, carries himself with a slick handle and slippery finishing. His playstyle is highly effervescent with an exciting aesthetic, but it's not always conducive to efficient offense.

By the end of the season, each of these players should be seeing minutes in San Antonio, but one or both could still find themselves spending extensive minutes in Austin to hone those skills. We might even see them switch off with one taking a role in the pros while the other leads the show in the G League. Either way, all three of these talented young men have a shot to crack the rotation.