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SA Spurs: How Joshua Primo can crack the rotation early

Cal Durrett
Josh Primo
Josh Primo / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
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San Antonio Spurs rookie Joshua Primo is quickly proving doubters wrong following a sizzling preseason debut in which he scored 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, in just 18 minutes. Just a few months ago, however, his selection with the 12th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft immediately drew backlash from Spurs fans.

He has quickly quieted the doubters, including me, with an encouraging Summer League and preseason performance. With Primo already exceeding expectations, it seems increasingly possible he could play more than previously expected. However, will he actually join the rotation? Let's examine Whether Primo is already good enough to be in the rotation next season.

Primo was expected by many to spend significant time in the G League this season, considering he's just 18 years old. Even so, he has skills that could help San Antonio this season. Given his size, length, and skillset, he could find playing time at a couple of positions.

With his shooting ability, shooting guard is his best position. He'd likely struggle to find minutes there this season with Derrick White and Lonnie Walker playing the same position. Fortunately, I believe Primo could find playing time at point guard en route to possibly earning a spot in the rotation.

What Joshua Primo could bring to the point guard position

The two other point guards on the roster besides Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes and Tre Jones, would be his competition. While both are expected to help fill the void left by former Spur Patty Mills as a backup point guard, Primo’s solid play and potential could also make him a candidate for that role.

While he isn’t a traditional point guard, with Jones missing time in the preseason, he’s been tasked with playing some at the position. He looked comfortable with the ball in his hands and creating in the pick and roll, suggesting that the team could use him there in the regular season as well.

Of the three potential options at point guard, Forbes is the better shooter though has limited experience operating with the ball in his hands. Jones is the better playmaker, though could struggle to space the floor. 

Primo could be a happy medium, providing a mix of sharpshooting, shot creation, and defense at point guard. Additionally, he would be playing alongside Walker and Thaddeus Young, both of whom would help him with playmaking responsibilities. In doing so, it would allow him to play off-ball, where his shooting could help a team that ranked 24th in 3-point percentage last season. 

Therefore, I feel that playing him at backup point guard next season is definitely feasible and the most likely way for him to find consistent minutes. In doing so, San Antonio could help speed up his development similar to last year's 11th overall pick, Devin Vassell.

Vassell was able to join the rotation as a rookie and appears to have built upon the experience gained by impressing in Summer League and in training camp, and looks poised for a breakout season. Were Primo to earn a spot in the rotation, it could have a similar effect on his development and hopefully lead to him having a breakout year sooner rather than later. 

With the team in rebuilding mode, San Antonio may be more willing to play a rookie than in years past. This possibly paves a way for him to see the court this season, even if in limited minutes. Still, his shooting ability, playmaking potential, and solid defense could mean that he plays more than just spot minutes.

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Overall, I believe Primo has the chance to earn playing time at point guard this season, given his strong play over the summer and in the preseason opener. We'll have to wait and see how he fairs over the remaining preseason games. However, I believe that Primo is much further along in his development than expected and is already good enough to be a rotation player.

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