Rookie Report Card: Grading Every First-Rounder on the Spurs Roster

NBA Draft 2022 at Barclays Center in NY
NBA Draft 2022 at Barclays Center in NY / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages
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Malaki Branham
San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

20th Overall Pick: Malaki Branham

While the former Ohio State Buckeye took a few more games than Sochan to earn a consistent role with the Spurs, Malaki Branham has gotten the most out of his minutes.

The 19-year-old rookie has averaged 9.3 points and 2.0 assists coming off the bench while shooting 43.4% from the field and 30.6% from deep in 57 games.

While the numbers aren't eye-popping, his scoring talents have been apparent. A three-level scorer, Branham has shown flashes of being a sparkplug off the bench. From threes to layups to the midrange, he's getting buckets from literally evert part of the court.

Despite navigating an inconsistent role due to sporadic injuries across the roster, Branham has already logged seven games of at least 20 points. This accomplishment is even more impressive, considering he is still acclimating to the NBA.

While Branham is a walking bucket, he needs to improve his defense. Losing a man or being out of position, Branham's defense is statistically one of the worst for a rookie (note that the Spurs as a whole are dreadful defensively). With that said, his defense has slowly been improving late in the season to the point that teammate Keldon Johnson commended one of his recent efforts.

Branham doesn't have as significant a role as Sochan, but he has put together an eye-opening rookie season. We can see what he's good at and what needs improvement. The smooth swingman might be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 NBA Draft when we look back in a few years.

Grade: A-

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