It didn't take long for San Antonio Spurs fans to fall in love with Josh Primo. With four more players entering COVID-19 protocols, they should be getting their wish for more playing time for him sooner than expected.
As the club announced on Thursday, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Thaddeus Young all will be unavailable for the foreseeable future as they look to clear health and safety protocols. Suddenly, Primo will be relied upon to produce in the face of adversity.
After the teenager was selected 12th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, many were left shaking their heads and even angry at the choice. But with his way-beyond-his-years maturity and collected nature on the court, Primo quickly turned into a fan favorite in the Alamo City.
Turning 19 on Christmas Eve, Primo is the youngest current player in the NBA and has been impressing Coach Gregg Popovich with his feel for the game at such an early age. "Joshua has an uncanny maturity about him," he told the media ahead of Primo's return to Canada. "Kind of a steady demeanor. He's not awed by the NBA or anything like that."
Still, while many might want Coach Pop to throw Primo into the fire as a regular rotation player (or even a rookie starter, à la Tony Parker), it doesn't appear that was part of his plan.
Coach Popovich Talks about Joshua Primo's Role
"You have that sort of value equation," Popovich said. "What will make him grow the quickest and the most solid?" Giving Primo immediate minutes as a starter or full-time rotation player might not have been in the cards, but Popovich admits it's not because he doesn't want to.
"If I could really do what I wanted to do and I didn't care about anything else in the world, I'd throw him in the frying pan the way we did Tony Parker. But the difference was Tony played a couple of years against grown men in the European Leagues before he came over."
While Primo's minutes have increased in the absence of Lonnie Walker and Doug McDermott, they were likely going to go back down upon their return, and I wouldn't have had an issue with that. The kid is nineteen, after all, and could stand to benefit from a more
With White, Johnson, Vassell, and Young entering COVID-19 protocols on Thursday, however, it's looking like Primo's time in the frying pan might be coming sooner than expected.
Lonnie Walker is also questionable and Doug McDermott has been ruled out of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, so Joshua will likely be asked to play heavy minutes for at least the next few games.
It's time to see what the Canadian kid can do in unusual circumstances -- hopefully, we'll see some sizzling along the way.