One glance at the boxscore might imply Blake Wesley had another routine night at the office against the Mavericks. After all, notching nine points on 3-of-8 shooting in 21 minutes isn't something to write home about, even if you leave out the three turnovers and five fouls that overshadowed any of the positive production from the rookie.
Despite his mistakes, taking a cynical approach to analyzing a 19-year-old point guard is probably the last thing anyone should do, especially with as dreadful as the Spurs have been during the first season of their full-blown rebuild. That isn't to say honest criticism isn't warranted, but fans deserve to hear reasons for optimism as they endure these trying times.
Wesley presented the Silver and Black faithful with a metaphorical light at the end of the tanking tunnel for a brief moment on Thursday, flashing the fascinating skills that enticed the front office to invest a first-round pick in him at the 2022 NBA Draft. And for a handful of possessions near the end of the third quarter, San Antonio's vision for Blake was clear.
The teenage ballhandler kicked things off with a maneuver reminiscent of the gall and creativity Manu Ginobili once brought to Alamo City, throwing an inbound pass off the back of Luka Doncic before rocking the rim with a one-handed slam.
On the ensuing sequence, Wesley brought the ball up the court, surveyed the floor, and kicked it back to Dominick Barlow to reset the offense when there were no available reads. He then repositioned above the break for a confident catch-and-shoot three.
Seconds later, Welsey snuck behind Luka to steal a careless inbound pass from Christian Wood. He could have forced the issue, but he assessed the situation, retreated to the perimeter, linked up with Doug McDermott for a cross-court skip pass, and eventually attacked a sloppy closeout to get to the free-throw line.
The Notre Dame product must hone his fundamentals on both ends of the hardwood. But if Blake Wesley adds muscle, refines his jumper, cuts down on live-ball turnovers, develops as a playmaker, and reins in the excessive gambling for steals, he could have a bright future with the Spurs.
While the youngster has lots of cleaning up to do if he wants to contribute to a winning organization, San Antonio is lightyears away from contending for something consequential. They will have ample time to be patient with him, and perhaps these baby steps will lead to a massive leap for Wesley.