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San Antonio Spurs: Josh Primo is Deserving of More Respect

Jonah Kubicek
Maryland v Alabama
Maryland v Alabama / Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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After only two summer league games for the San Antonio Spurs (at the time of writing), it seems clear that the 12th overall pick, Joshua Primo, was worth the reach. Initially, Spurs fans were disappointed and shocked by the pick, but Primo has done everything right since being selected. The young man seems very excited to call San Antonio home, plays with a confidence rarely seen in an 18-year-old, and is already showing flashes of being an absurdly good scorer and defender. 

In my mind, playing for the Spurs should be the dream for any up-and-coming basketball player. For three decades, the organization has been the pinnacle of class and success in basketball, has had top-tier coaching, and now has a solid young core and group of veterans to guide the squad. The only noticeable downside is the continuous lack of recognition in the media and social media.

Personally, I think it’s probably a good thing that Josh Primo gets to grow and play for a relatively under-the-radar team. I imagine being an NBA player is stressful enough as it is, but he’s just 18 and any outside factors are probably unwelcome. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be praised or criticized when his play deserves it, though, and he's already seen such criticism. But with his summer league stat line of 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and over a block per game, it’s time for him to get the recognition of a first-round pick that he deserves. Primo could even have the most two-way potential of any player in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Yes, Cunningham, Mobley, Suggs, Green, and many others are the better players at the moment and may very well have better careers. Primo is young enough to still be in high school, though, and is playing professional basketball at a very high level

Primo was far from being a highly anticipated or must-watch player for most of the NBA world this summer, but he should have been. Among five other highly anticipated players, I would rank his on-court performance as such:

  1. Jalen Green (20pts, 4trb, 2ast, 52%3pt)
  2. Cade Cunningham (18pts, 6trb, 2ast, 50%3pt)
  3. Jonathan Kuminga (17pts, 6trb, 1.5ast, 1.6stl)
  4. Joshua Primo (14pts, 3trb, 2.5ast, 1.3 blk)
  5. Jalen Suggs (15pts, 6trb, 2ast, 1.6 stl)
  6. LiAngelo Ball (10.5pts, 2trb, 0.5ast, 41%3pt)

Regardless of those arbitrary rakings, though, there’s simply no denying that Primo has already exceeded expectations and proved that he has a case to come off the Spurs’ bench instead of spending a year in Austin.

Primo has gone under-appreciated by San Antonio Spurs fans

Not to unnecessarily drag LiAngelo Ball, but he’s been cut by Oklahoma City’s G-League team and the Detroit Pistons without playing a single game. Sure, maybe he deserves another shot, but the hype around him is too much given his career arc. Primo, on the other hand, has gotten very little national attention for ending the summer league knowing that he competed at the level of a few top-five draft picks.

All the other players listed above have obviously received a bit of attention during summer league play. On Twitter, all of the top results when searching for “Jalen Green,” “Cade Cunningham,” “Jonathan Kuminga,” “Jalen Suggs,” or “LiAngelo Ball,” are from national news outlets or NBA-focused accounts.

When searching “Josh Primo,” the first nine results are from members of Spurs Twitter. It isn't until the tenth result that an NBA-related account (@draftdummies) mentions him, which can be seen above. That being said, more prominent national outlets like ESPN, the Athletic, and Bleacher Report have not mentioned Primo once on their Twitter accounts since he was drafted. 

Google News results appear to be very similar to Twitter’s, although a single Sports Illustrated article does come up for Primo. 

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Ultimately, Primo himself probably doesn’t really care. Perhaps it’ll put a chip on his shoulder and make him play even harder, but it doesn’t really matter though as Primo has cemented himself as one of the most exciting players from his draft class. Spurs fans should be very excited. It may take some time for him to get some real minutes in the NBA, but when he does, the Association won’t know what hit them. So far, Primo has played better than nearly everyone expected, but mostly in silence.

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