1. Avoid forgetting about Luka Samanic once again
Considering he was a first-round pick in 2019 and has yet to crack the San Antonio Spurs' regular rotation, many have already labeled Luka Samanic a bust. I don't particularly subscribe to that label, as I'm in the camp that believes he's never really been given a fair shake.
Most of Luka's minutes in his first two seasons have come either in garbage time or during injury-plagued times. The most impressive stretch he's had so far was an early-March run he had last season against Brooklyn, New York, and Oklahoma City. In those three games in four nights, the 6-10 forward averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from three.
The biggest issue plaguing Samanic has been consistency, in every sense of the word. He hasn't been given consistent minutes, which isn't on him. But he also hasn't been consistently productive when he does have opportunities. Still, I noticed a change in Luka last season after his brief stint in Austin.
Suddenly, he was more engaged on the court than ever and never putting his head down after mistakes. He was also being more aggressive on both ends of the floor and making plays. Luka's lateral quickness and ability to stay in front of his man really impressed me for stretches last season, but then Rudy Gay came back to take up all his minutes.
I think it's safe to say this is the year Coach Pop and the Spurs will decide if Samanic is part of their future or not. As a potential stretch big, he offers a unique skillset on a team in dire need of those. The key will be giving him enough real NBA minutes when it counts and really seeing what he's made of. If he withers, then at least we all will know he was given a fair shot at last. If he doesn't, then maybe San Antonio made the right call in 2019 after all.