San Antonio Spurs guard Joshua Primo became the youngest starter in team history last season. It was an unexpected development for Primo, who's the youngest player in the NBA -- especially after he was surprisingly picked 12th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The decision to start Primo was definitely with an eye toward the future in hopes of speeding up his development. In fact, it might've hinted at the team's decision to trade All-Star Dejounte Murray. That leads to questions about if the Spurs see Primo as Murray's Replacement. Let's examine.
Coming out of Alabama, Primo mostly played off-ball and his biggest selling point was his shooting. However, he struggled to knock down shots as a rookie. Fortunately, those struggles probably won't carry over to his sophomore season now that he's had a chance to get used to going against bigger, stronger, and longer players.
If Primo can regain his shooting stroke next season, then it would give him an NBA skill that he can use to build the rest of his game around. That's something that Murray never fully developed and it's a key difference between the two players.
Josh Primo has potential to be an all-around player
Besides shooting, Primo has shown offensive potential in other areas, such as playmaking and scoring inside of the paint. While he isn't a natural point guard, neither was Murray, but Murray quickly learned and just finished fourth in the NBA in assists last season.
Of course, that's not to say that Primo will develop in the same way Murray has. Still, he's younger than Murray was when he joined the Spurs and he's probably as good of a creator as Murray was at the same age. Therefore, if the Spurs do see Primo as a possible long-term replacement for Murray, it's not a stretch to think that he could also evolve into a true point guard.
In addition to his shooting and his potential as a playmaker, Primo has shown an underrated knack for scoring near the basket. In college, he displayed an impressive finishing ability despite not being an explosive athlete, and his unorthodox moves should translate to the NBA.
If Primo improves in all of those areas, he could make for a terrific player, and his development may be helped by him growing a couple of inches. Prior to being drafted, he was listed at 6’4 with a 6’9 wingspan at the NBA Combine, but it appears that he’s now 6'6.
If that's the case, then it immediately makes him more intriguing as a prospect. Better still, his apparent mini-growth spurt, as well as his offseason workouts, could help him dramatically improve next season.
For instance, he's already a decent defender, but a stronger 6'6 version of Primo may eventually allow him to effectively guard at least three positions -- something that Murray couldn't do. It should even help with his passing, allowing him to more easily see over his defender. That will come in handy next season now that he's certain to play on-ball a lot more with Murray gone.
That will give him plenty of hands-on experience and should also help the Spurs figure out what they have in Primo. Look, he's not going to turn into Chris Paul overnight, but if he steadily improves as a playmaker, then he could show that he's the team's point guard of the future.
While he might not achieve the same peak as Murray did in San Antonio, it's easy to see why the Spurs are intrigued by the idea of Primo. After all, he's much younger, bigger, and cheaper than Murray while his shooting ability at the position is a big plus.