The painfully obvious solution to Malaki Branham's struggles

Before the 2023–24 season, Malaki Branham seemed to be a player to watch for the San Antonio Spurs but hasn't lived up to expectations. There's an easy fix.

Gregg Popovich, Malaki Branham
Gregg Popovich, Malaki Branham / Justin Tafoya/GettyImages
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Entering the 2023–24 season as a second-year player, Malaki Branham appeared to be a player to watch for the San Antonio Spurs. Unfortunately, Branham hasn't lived up to expectations this season after showing a lot of potential as an offensive player late in his rookie season.

This season has been a completely different story, as he's struggled mightily on the offensive end and has been a traffic cone on defense. Despite that, he has started 21 games for the Spurs this season and contributed to their underperformance with an outrageously bad -15.1 net rating. Now, it seems that Blake Wesley has wrestled away his spot in the rotation, leaving Branham's future with the Spurs uncertain.

What should the Spurs do with Malaki Branham?

Giving Branham more minutes over the second half of the season would be a mistake, given how he's performed thus far. As a result, the Spurs should send him to the G League for a few weeks in hopes of him regaining his confidence playing against lesser competition.

With any luck, he will be able to make some strides late in the season once he returns to the Spurs when they take their pedal off the gas in late March and early April—as much as a 10-36 team can. While Branham has been a major disappointment this season, Wesley has helped to alleviate some of those feelings.

Previously, he was seen as the least likely to succeed of the Spurs' three 2022 first-round picks. Now, with Branham struggling and Wesley playing well, Branham will have to prove that he's the one who belongs with the team going forward.

That can start in the G-League, which has proven to be beneficial for many young Spurs players over the years, and Branham could be the next. Playing big minutes out of the spotlight and with smaller stakes could help him rediscover what made him a promising prospect: his scoring prowess.

Ultimately, despite a brutal sophomore slump, there is hope that Branham can bounce back, but he needs help doing it. If he can get himself right in a developmental atmosphere, he could have a future with the Spurs.

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