The San Antonio Spurs have made it clear they are choosing to take things very slowly with the 11th overall pick, Joshua Primo. The baby-faced 19-year-old has already made some big leaps in his very limited playing time and has already established himself as a star in the NBA G League.
Fans have placed very high expectations on his shoulders, and he has been proving that the gamble of drafting him so early is going to pay off. Popovich and the front office made a brilliant move drafting him as he is already playing at the level expected of a lottery pick, and his ceiling is insanely high.
As a teenager, Primo obviously has some massive steps to take before he can be a bonafide NBA starter, but it looks like he is well on his way. Physically, he is adding weight, grabbing boards, and playing tough defense. Mentally, he is taking shots that require confidence -- and he’s hitting them. He is shooting 38% from deep, which is the fourth-best on the team already behind Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, and Joe Wieskamp.
The weapons are all there. Now he just needs to put them all together. Still, there's one piece of the puzzle that is missing.
Joshua Primo Needs to Demand the Basketball
Joshua Primo is clearly the future face of the franchise and has all the promise that he could be the next great Spur. There has only been one consistent issue with his game, which means he can work on it. Joshua Primo does not demand the ball.
As a future primary ball-handler, Primo looks very comfortable with the ball in his hands. He can knock down big shots and drive to the basket. Despite the occasional growing pain turnovers from errant passes, he seems to be a solid playmaker. All of this is very good, except he does not know what to do after he gives the ball up.
When Primo passes the ball, he drifts to the corner. Usually, a player can find an open shot from there, but when Primo moves off-ball, he just stands there, occasionally walking back up to the top of the key. I noticed this happened at least three times in the January 12th loss to Houston, twice against the Bulls on the 28th, and a whopping four times in the most recent loss to the Suns.
Against Phoenix, Primo gave up the ball and was wide open in the corner, but he was just standing there. Jock Landale instead found Lonnie Walker in the opposite corner, who was flailing his arms like a madman. Landale hit Walker, who missed a contested three.
If Primo gave up the ball, got to his spot, and then demanded the ball back, he could easily average seven shots a game instead of four. I’m all for a pass-first guard, but at a certain point, a future floor general needs to tell his teammates to give him the ball back. Yell for it, jump up and down, you're open. He can hit those shots.
It’s up to his teammates to find him in the corner, but it’s also up to him to give them a reason to look over there. Sitting quietly in the corner probably worked for him in high school when he didn’t want the teacher to call on him (19 months ago), but now his presence should be felt. Josh Primo needs to take note from Keldon Johnson and start screaming.
Luckily, if the only major issue with his play is not playing aggressively enough, there isn’t a reason for fans to doubt the pick. At age 19, he is already a promising NBA talent, and having only one issue to solve should mean he can help get the Silver and Black back in contention very, very soon.